GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney was so close a partner with the liberal late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the crafting of Massachusetts' sweeping healthcare law that he frequently referred to Kennedy as “my collaborator and friend.”
Now, of course, Romney is depicting himself as a “severe conservative” and doing everything he can to distance himself from the law that was the basis for Obamacare — the president’s signature healthcare law, The New York Times
points out in an extensive article Sunday on the relationship.
Among other things, the Times reveals
- Romney’s attempt in 1994 to “out-Kennedy Kennedy” during a Senate race led him to take stands on issues like abortion and gay rights that he has since backed away from, giving rise to accusations that he is a flip-flopper.
- Romney did not make healthcare a cause when he ran for governor in 2002. But by the fall of 2004, changing circumstances in Washington pushed him into it — and into a partnership with Kennedy.
- With Democrats in control of the state legislature,Romney had little hope of passing a massive healthcare bill on his own. Kennedy worked lawmakers behind the scenes, writing notes, cajoling, making telephone calls and stepping in when negotiations between House and Senate Democrats broke down.
- Kennedy schooled Romney, who was notorious for not knowing many lawmakers by name, in how to woo Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature to get the healthcare law passed. In particularly difficult moments for the bill, Romney would attempt to adopt Kennedy’s personal touch leading Democratic lawmakers.
- Kennedy had more pull with the Republican Bush administration and actually intervened on Romney’s behalf to get a deal with the federal government that extended the waiver of certain federal rules, giving Massachusetts flexibility in administering its Medicaid program and extra money for hospitals that cared for the poor. That helped pave the way for what is now known as “Romneycare,” or as some Republican conservatives put it, “Obamneycare.”
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