Gingrich: Romney Couldn’t ‘Defend Himself’ On Health Care In Debate Against Obama
News organizations are covering the increasingly bitter Florida presidential primary race, which includes attacks on Mitt Romney's health care record by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Politico: Newt: Dole 'Couldn't Debate Bill Clinton Effectively'
Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said this week that he doesn't want to see Newt Gingrich in the White House, and the former House speaker responded [on "Fox News Sunday"] by attacking Dole. ... He continued, with a jab at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who's endorsed Mitt Romney, as well as Romney himself. "We tried a moderate in 2008. He couldn't debate Barack Obama effectively and lost. I think we nominate a moderate this year, the gap between Romneycare and Obamacare is that big," Gingrich said, holding two fingers about a centimeter apart. "It would be hard for Romney to defend himself" (Epstein, 1/29).
Tampa Bay Times: Republicans Fret About Romney And His Mass. Halth Plan
Even if he does poorly in Florida, Santorum is not going away. He said Friday he will continue his campaign into other states and repeated his criticism of Romney, calling his position "a big, big liability for us going into this general election." ... Even Gingrich joined in during a stop Saturday in Winter Park, telling voters it would impossible to have a "rational debate" with "Romneycare" resembling the national law (Leary, 1/29).
Palm Beach Post: Strong GOP Voter Turnout In Palm Beach County As Early Voting Ends
On the last day of early voting before Tuesday's Republican presidential primary, a steady stream of voters made their way to Palm Beach County's polling sites, many full of passion for change and indignation over the state of the economy. Tony and Rhonda Morris, both of Boynton Beach, said they had cast votes for Rick Santorum. ... "I don't want the government telling me how to raise my kids and spend my money and whether or not to buy health care," said Tony Morris, 56, who is an office manager for a federal government office (Sorentrue and Singer, 1/29).
The New York Times: Santorum’s Attacks on Romney Health Plan Could Help Democrats
If Democrats wants a step-by-step instruction manual for how they might try to neutralize Mitt Romney on the issue of health care, they might want to grab a transcript of Thursday’s debate. There, they will find Rick Santorum’s coldly efficient critique of Mr. Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts, in which he describes how little difference he sees between that plan and the one President Obama pushed through Congress in early 2010 (Shear, 1/27).
Related video and transcript from KHN: Santorum: Romney Wrong Man For GOP On Health Care (1/27)
NPR's SHOTS blog: Romney's Unlikely And Persuasive Defense Of The 'Individual Mandate'
For a candidate who keeps vowing to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sure can make a convincing argument on its behalf. ... And while Romney insisted that the Massachusetts law and the federal law differ in significant ways, [John] McDonough, who was intimately involved in the development and passage of both the Massachusetts and federal health laws, insists that's not really the case. "The similarities go far far beyond the mandate," he said (Rovner, 1/27).
AFP: Dilemma For Seniors In Florida Primary
Floridians over age 65 account for 17.3 percent of the state's population of 19 million, the highest senior average in the United States. And with the demographic traditionally known for its higher voter turnout, Romney and Gingrich are treading carefully as they court elderly voters. ... neither has publicly spoken out much on the campaign trail in Florida about cutting benefits or other possible changes to government health insurance programs that would rein in health care costs (Bustamante, 1/29).
CNN: How To Tame Super PAC Ads
Not to be outdone, the pro-Gingrich super PAC cloaked in the name "Winning Our Future" has trafficked out the false allegation that Romney's health reform in Massachusetts is "government-run health care" (a claim repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers) that "sent costs spiraling out of control, hiking premiums, squeezing household budgets" when, instead, as Politifact noted, "cost increases for individual households are largely due to the fact that health care costs have been rising across the country" (Hall Jamieson, 1/29).
CNN: Romney Faces Medicare Attacks In Florida
One of Gingrich's top Florida backers, former state Attorney General Bill McCollum, also raised questions about Romney's past service on the board of Damon Corp., a Massachusetts medical testing company that pleaded guilty in 1996 to billing Medicare fraudulently and paid a $119 million fine. ... "They have been thoroughly discredited by independent fact checkers and by respected Republicans like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said (Silverleib, 1/27).
ABC News: The Story Behind Romney, Medicare Fraud, and the Latest Super PAC 'Movie'
It all stems from Damon Corp., a medical-testing company run by Romney and Bain [Capital] in the 1990s, which was caught in a widespread federal investigation into Medicare fraud at lab companies. In 1989, Bain took over Damon Corp., then based in Massachusetts, and Romney sat on Damon’s board from 1990 until 1993 ... During Romney’s tenure at Damon, the company allegedly defrauded Medicare for millions of dollars by offering packages of blood tests that resulted in doctors ordering unnecessary lab-work ... Confronted over it in 2002, Romney told media he "blew the whistle" on Damon’s fraudulent Medicare activity when he found out about it. And he did–to some extent (Good, 1/27).
This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.