I will play the key excerpts of Mitt Romney’s speech in the third hour of my show today. A good summary from Politico is here, including this key graph:
“I recognize that a lot pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that this was a boneheaded idea, and I should just admit it: it was a mistake, and walk away. I presume that a lot of folks think that if I did that it would be good for me politically, ” Romney said as he flipped through slides of a PowerPoint presentation he prepared himself. “There’s only one problem with that: it wouldn’t be honest.”
Romney shrewdly identifies his GOP opponents as centered in the pundit class, and he’s right to note and respond to the torrent of criticism of Massachusetts care from the right. He offered a strong defense of what he did and why, and a very sharp differentiation from Obamacare. Of course it won’t matter to political opponents, any more than Tim Pawlenty’s or Jon Huntsman’s repudiation of past views on cap-and-trade will persuade their opponents or Newt’s candid admissions of past mistakes will persuade his opponents.
What matters most is that each of them in turn take on their biggest political challenges and do so again and again. If Romney is the nominee, and polls put him in a strong position now, he will have to answer Team Obama’s absurd charges about Massachusetts care. Today demonstrated how he would do so. And it isn’t an exchange the president would welcome in an October 2012 debate.