Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin asserts that Mitt can’t run against ObamaCare:
The fact is any Republican who wins the presidential nomination next year will have to run against Obama on health care. To comprehend that basic fact of contemporary political life is to understand why Romney has little or no chance of being the nominee.
Let’s put aside for the moment the importance that Tobin seems to place on health care compared to the economy. (After all, if unemployment is still around 9% at the beginning of next year and growth remains anemic, what will be the dominant theme of the campaign?) Is he right? Can Mitt not run against Obama on health care?
I’d be lying if I said that it won’t be a hurdle for him to overcome in the primary, but as I’ve argued elsewhere, his health care experience will be an asset in the general election. Mitt can credibly argue that his own expertise with the mandate shows that it can’t work everywhere, that his state’s own experiences with costs show that it grows far more costly the greater the percentage of uninsured, and that it makes little sense to treat Massachusetts like Arkansas like California.
Moreover, he recently articulated what he’d do to ObamaCare starting “day one” of his presidency. In that sense, he’s already running against ObamaCare. And at some point his rivals will have to address Mitt’s actual position rather than simply sneering at RomneyCare — especially since Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Gingrich all indicated openness to at least state-level mandates during their own careers. (Given the conservative origins of much of RomneyCare, that’s hardly surprising. It’s only in the last 24 months that a state-level mandate has been an anathema in conservative politics.)
There are precious few viable candidates who represent the Perfect Conservative. Everyone has baggage. Everyone. I’d argue that as the race matures and as we get a complete picture of Mitt’s opponents (right now, we’re still in the phase where some still lift their eyes to the hills hoping to see the conservative messiah galloping in on a white horse), we’ll realize that Mitt will have to be beaten by a person, not just an issue.