Daniel Larison doesn’t think my analogy between Mitt Romney’s position on health care and John Kerry’s 2004 stance on the Iraq war fits. Kerry and his running mate John Edwards both voted for the war in the Senate and were still essentially pro-war during the 2004 campaign. Romney, by contrast, is openly campaigning in favor of repeal and “is at most implicated in supporting some of the same policy mechanisms that the federal health care legislation also uses, but he opposes the specific legislation in question.”
I agree that Romney’s opposition to Obamacare in 2009-10 and support for repeal now makes a difference. But the problem is that he’s put himself in the position of having to argue that the federal legislation should be repealed while simultaneously defending nearly identical state legislation as wise and good. Distinctions between the federal and state legislation do exist, but to many swing voters I doubt they will sound more compelling than Kerry and Edwards quibbling over Bush’s management of the war.
Romney can make a stronger claim for deserving pro-repeal and anti-Obamacare votes than Kerry could make for deserving antiwar votes, but for many of the reasons outlined in my column today he is not going to be as effective at making those arguments to the broader electorate. If Kerry and Edwards had argued in 2004 that the Iraq war would have been good for Massachusetts but a disaster for the United States, they would have been making a Romney-like argument.