First Read points out that Mitt Romney announced his candidacy for the presidency yesterday and it was a day before the fifth anniversary of the passage of healthcare reform in Massachusetts. The guys at First Read write:
Yet it may be fitting that Romney jumped into the presidential waters so close to that anniversary, because Massachusetts’ law will define his primary candidacy. He either figures out how to navigate and wins the nomination, or the issue kills his chances. It may be that simple.
Could it really be that simple? The fact is that seniors in the Republican Party rely on Medicare, and no matter how much they might favor Paul Ryan's budget, the idea that cuts to entitlement programs could hurt their individual care may make them horseshy of radical changes. In addition, Romney can point to the fact that health reform in Massachusetts has worked, and in a general, it puts him on more of a level playing field with Obama in regards to creating affordable health-care options. If he chooses to own that record -- he can point to 400,000 people receiving health insurance because of the mandate that requires everyone to buy health care. Romney the moderate embracing his health-care proposal could be a far more potent adversary than Romney the ultra conservative.
We also know that from the last primaries, conservatives didn't buy the idea that Romney was an ultra-conservative, so will he try to wear a slightly more moderate hat this time around. The need for that sense of moderation is underscored by Newt Gingrich's quote to The New York Times today.
“I think it is a dangerous political exercise,” Gingrich told The New York Times. “This is not something that Republicans can afford to handle lightly.” He was referring to the Medicare vote set to take place this week, but it speaks volumes about the public's appetite for attacks on entitlement programs.
Someone like Romney who could point to past success in passing a health-care bill may have an upper hand. Of course, it is a "may" because we don't know how Romney is going to own or disown the issue.