Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty has gone on the offensive against front-runner Mitt Romney, saying in hindsight he should have been “much more clear” in Monday night’s GOP debate: Republicans cannot have a nominee in 2012 that had any involvement with the evolution of Obamacare.
Pawlenty also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday the former Massachusetts governor cannot spearhead the attempt to eject Obama as he was the president’s “co-conspirator” on healthcare.
Pawlenty has taken considerable heat because he had previously linked the Obama and Romney healthcare reform plans and labeled the result "Obamneycare," but would not repeat the term at the New Hampshire debate — even after being prodded by the moderator, CNN’s John King.
“Well, I think in response to that direct question, I should have been much more clear during the debate, Sean. I don’t think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of Obamacare and then continues to defend it,” Pawlenty said. “And that was the question — I should have answered it directly — and instead, I stayed focused on Obama.
“But the question really related to . . . Governor Romney — and I should have been more clear. I should have made the point that he was involved in developing, that he really laid the groundwork, for Obamacare and continues to this day to defend it,” the former Minnesota governor said. “I think that’s a legitimate point in response to the question I was asked and I should have been more clear.”
Hannity noted Romney’s defense of Romneycare is that healthcare reform is a state issue and should not be tackled on the federal level.
“Well, I don’t think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are a co-conspirator in one of the main charges against the president on the political level,” Pawlenty said. “And so, it really puts our nominee, if that who it turns out to be, in a very difficult spot.
“And I understand Governor Romney’s argument that it is different at the state level,” he said. “[But] when you look at these two plans with only modest variations they are very similar, and nearly identical.”
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