Romney on Health Care Mandate: 'It's Not Worth Getting Angry About'

Democrats already know one issue upon which they have potential GOP nominee, Mitt Romney at a severe disadvantage, as Paul Begala points out: RomneyCare versus ObamaCare.

After 19 debates Mitt still doesn’t have a straight answer. Rick Santorum skillfully dissected Romney on the topic. If Romney is the GOP nominee, you can be sure Barack Obama will do the same.

Appearing to have been stuck in, you’re angry mode, a tactic Romney is deploying to target Newt Gingrich, it was all he seemed to have as a fall back when very effectively pressed on the subject by Rick Santorum in last night’s debate.

“We cannot give the issue of healthcare away in this election,” Santorum declared, striking a resonance with conservatives everywhere.

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Based upon various Twitter accounts, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh picked up on the topic this morning, stressing the importance of the exchange between Santorum and Romney. Liberal blogs and outlets such as Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post are picking up on it with video, as is The Hill, among others.

The Weekly Standard also took notice. ObamaCare played a big part in fueling Tea Party anger with the Obama administration. Along with conservatives coming away with the impression Romney doesn’t share their anger over state run health care–fairly, or not–any Romney and GOP criticism of ObamaCare can now be met with an ad quoting Romney as saying it isn’t something to get angry about.

That’s bound to undermine existing and new Republican attacks on what continues to be a sore subject on the Right, especially among conservatives and Tea Party members. From the Weekly Standard:

Moments later, as the discussion over Romneycare and Obamacare continued, Romney rebuked Santorum, saying, First of all, it’s not worth getting angry about.

The exchange offered a stark reminder of one inescapable set of facts:

President Obama spent the bulk of his first 15 months in office ramming his signature legislation down the throats of the American people. Yet, as his State of the Union Address made clear, he’d rather not bring it up. So if Republicans are going to have a mandate to repeal this unprecedented threat to liberty and fiscal solvency, they will have to bring it up — or, rather, their nominee will have to bring it up. And he will have to know why he opposes it — not merely that he does.

Immediate post-debate reaction last night seemed to favor Santorum as the winner of the overall debate. What’s less clear is how badly Mitt Romney may have hurt himself by highlighting what many view as a critical weakness of his in pursuing the GOP nomination.