On the eve of the Republican convention in Tampa, Mitt Romney abruptly embraced his Massachusetts health care law Sunday in response to President Barack Obama's attacks that Republicans have declared a 'war on women.' "
"I'm the guy who was able to get all the health care for all the women and men for my state," Romney said in an interview aired on Fox News Sunday. "They were talking about it at the federal level. We actually did something and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes."
Romney added that he was "very proud" of his signature on the 2006 law when he was governor of Massachusetts while charging that Obama would cut more than $700 million from Medicare to pay for his health care overhaul. During the Republican primary and for much of the general election, Romney has all but ignored his health care bill and has instead emphasized that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act if he were elected.
But as the November election approaches, Romney and senior campaign aides have begun mentioning his Massachusetts reforms with more frequency and enthusiasm.
"Romney has a Hobson's choice: Obama will hit him if he distances himself on the Massachusetts plan, or, Obama will play up the plan as the basis for Obamacare if Romney owns it," GOP strategist Keith Appell said.
"What's important for Romney to do is maintain what he has promised conservatives: that he will repeal Obamacare on Day One of his presidency. And all conservatives — in Congress and at the grass roots level — need to hold his feet to the fire on that. If he wins and the Republicans control Congress, he has to repeal Obamacare immediately if he wants things to go smoothly from that point forward."
On Thursday, Romney also mentioned the health care law in an interview with a Denver television station. He pointed out that his plan didn't raise taxes.
On Aug. 8, spokeswoman Andrea Saul evoked the law in a Fox News appearance, saying "if people had been in Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney's health care plan, they would have had health care." There was a backlash from conservative pundits who saw their fears that he was moving to center realized.
Saul used the law as a defense to a blistering ad aired by an Obama-allied super PAC accusing Romney for being responsible for the death of a man's wife who died after he lost his job at a Bain-controlled company. Saul said if the couple had lived in Massachusetts, they would have had health care coverage.
On Sunday, Romney invoked his health care law in response to a question about women's health issues — a sore spot for Republicans after Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin's remarks that women who are raped aren't likely to get pregnant.
Obama's campaign has been playing offense regarding the Missouri lawmaker's statement, but Romney noted that he's also urged Akin to drop out of the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
"Oh, I think it was a terrible statement on his part," Romney said on Fox News. "I think it was uninformed. I think it was outrageous and offensive."
"I think I have distanced myself from the kind of thing he said as far as I possibly can," Romney added. "He was wrong. And it's obviously being used by Democrats to try to cast a shadow on our entire party, and it's not. Leaders of our party have pretty much unanimously said, 'Mr. Akin get out of the race. You've said something which is highly offensive.' "
Asked if the Obama campaign would be effective in attaching Akin's name to the Romney-Paul Ryan ticket, Romney replied, "It really is sad, isn't it? With all the issues that America faces, for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level. They understand and they are wise enough to understand that people like myself have asked Todd Akin to get out of the race because we vehemently disagree with what he said."