Mitt Romney Thinks He Lost the Election Because of ObamaCare

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / Foter.com / CC BYPhoto credit: DonkeyHotey / Foter.com / CC BYIn an interview with Fox News this weekend, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that his campaign “underestimated” the attractiveness of ObamaCare, particularly among people with lower incomes. Given the health law’s sagging poll numbers, it’s hard to make a strong case that ObamaCare helped seal the deal for the president. Either way, though, the remark tells us more about Romney  than it does about how ObamaCare plays with voters.

After all, Romney often seems to understand the election in strictly transactional terms. Just a few weeks after the election, Romney blamed his loss on President Obama’s “gifts” to the electorate, telling donors that “what the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.”

More importantly, Romney has long viewed ObamaCare as basically a good idea. He passed its state based predecessor in Massachusetts, and he repeatedly touted it as a model for the nation. He also chose his top campaign adviser, Stuart Stevens, in large part because Stevens broke from other GOP consultants in telling Romney that he didn’t need to disavow the Massachusetts health care plan.

Indeed, it seems reasonable to suspect that Romney’s staunch opposition to ObamaCare during the campaign was at least partially a put-up job. Sure, Romney would have implemented an ObamaCare-style national health law somewhat differently, but he supported the basic concept, which provided the backbone for his own health law.

You can imagine this frustrating Romney. When RomneyCare passed back in 2006, a lot of folks in Massachusetts viewed it as a bid for the presidency: Romney was going to run as the Republican who made health care reform happen. It was going to be his signature achievement. Instead, it turned out to be Obama's, and Romney was stuck in the deeply awkward position of defending the Massachusetts overhaul while taking a hard line against the president's. So at this point my theory is that Romney may be a bit peeved that Obama got to run on a sweeping health care reform and he didn’t. Or, to put it another way, maybe Romney wanted this to be his gift and not Obama's. 

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  • ||

    Look. According to Tulpa, Romney GARBLE GABBLE BLARG not voting for Romney is voting for Obama GABBLE BLORK DUHHHH

  • ||

    Wow, good job mimicking his writing style. It took me a while to realize that wasn't a verbatim quote.

  • ||

    It's more of an amalgamation.

  • John||

    You forgot Ron Paul GARBLE GARBBLE BLARG Nixonian landslide GARBLE GARBLE.

  • C. Anacreon||

    GARBLE GABBLE BLARG

    Isn't that a Ramones song?

  • ||

    He is a pinhead, after all. But we don't accept him.

  • John||

    That just tells us that the theory that four more years of Obama's bumbling and destroying the Dem brand is probably better than four years of Romney bumbling selling out and destroying the R brand would have been better was probably correct.

    Thanks for making me feel better about the election there Mitt. You fucking half wit.

  • ||

    He should've switched parties before the 2008 election.

  • Bam!||

    I never really understood why Romney was in the Republican party. Even going back to his first election in the 90s, he was always running more as a Democrat, or at the very least, a liberal Republican.

  • John||

    Because the Democrats went so insane in the late 1990s that only the truly crazy were welcome there.

    In a healthy Republic, Romney would have been the D nominee and Paul would have been the R nominee and Obama would be in the Illinois Senate.

  • C. Anacreon||

    and Obama would be in the Illinois Senate.

    That would mean that Seven of Nine would have had to stay married.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    She was just not going to do that freaky stuff.

    For want of a threesome
    A nation was lost

  • ||

    Truly, a moral tale for the ages.

  • Drake||

    The wave of destruction is still propagating from that event. A universe with a non-kinky Jack Ryan would be a much better place.

  • ||

    Obama should be teaching creative fiction at some community college.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "I never really understood why Romney was in the Republican party"

    It all goes back to '63 when his father cursed him and his seed for the sake of progressive polity and the demise of the GOP.

    But seriously, did you listen to his primary challengers? Just try to contemplate that field without RP, who had 0 chance to win, and then which candidate seems the most rational? Moonbase Gingrich? Romney's downfall was he chose to be governor of Massachusetts and thinking anybody gave a shit he managed to bring the cesspool back into the black.

  • crashland||

    The R brand is destroying itself quite well without Mitt's help.

  • John||

    The various state legislatures and governorships as well as the House of Reps would say otherwise.

  • ||

    My wife said throughout the election that rural America would not vote for a Mormon. Given the low Republican turnout she may have been correct. There's more than one kind of bigot.

  • John||

    Wouldn't shock me.

  • DJF||

    I thought people would not vote for Romney because they had no idea what Romney was actually for besides getting elected.

  • John||

    No they knew exactly what he was for; he stood for banning all birth control and re-instituting slavery.

  • Bam!||

    A lot people said that Republicans wouldn't vote for Mitt Romney. Given his poor showing in both the primaries and general they may have been correct.

  • Drake||

    Republicans voted for him, conservatives didn't.

  • Proprietist||

    To the average voter, Romney was a plastic, poll-responsive automaton whose emotion always felt contrived. That's why he lost. Then there were those of us who actually knew what he was advocating for and could not vote for him on that basis.

    Obamacare was so unpopular, which was why maybe it was a bad idea to run the father of Obamacare, right Team Red? Next time, try advocating for real reform and not a marginally preferable repackaging of the same policies you are condemning.

    Oh, and how about an entitlement reform plan that makes sense and has details? If we all agree that SS/Medicare are the political third rails, you might as well tell people exactly what you are going to cut or reform instead of making vague promises that everybody will keep their benefits, young people can opt out and the debt will be reduced via magick.

  • John||

    Oh, and how about an entitlement reform plan that makes sense and has details?

    Ryans plan did make sense and did have details. I don't think that is a fair statement at all.

    The problem with Romney was that he is a rich guy who is happier not being President and didn't want to offend anyone or go after Obama. When your opponent is willing to call you a tax cheating felon who hates women and you are not willing to so much as say a word in response and no everyone in the media is cheering on your opponent, it is hard to win.

  • Proprietist||

    Explain how you pay for a plan where younger workers opt out and older near-retirees keep all benefits until death doeth them part? Ryan's plan made no sense and would arguably expand the entitlement debt faster than doing nothing, which will at least preserve a source of funding for the benefits of current and near-retirees.

  • John||

    Explain how you pay for a plan where younger workers opt out and older near-retirees keep all benefits until death doeth them part?

    Because no one opted out. It just gave them vouchers to buy their own insurance. That is not opting out. And everyone was still paying taxes to support it.

    It wasn't a bad plan and was a hell of an improvement over what we have now.

  • Proprietist||

    So the vouchers are paid for with, what? Payroll taxes? Then who is paying for the maintenance of retiree benefits? Oh, yes, even more money coming from the general fund, which is already spent. Brilliant idea for reducing deficits.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Romney lost because he and his idiot handlers refused to stake out any positions materially distinguishable from Barry. Had he done so, he could have then launched offensive salvos at Barry from the end of the convention until election day.

    Weak campaign was weak. Suck it up, Mittens.

  • Bam!||

    That may be the most annoying thing about RomneyBot: He doesn't take responsibility for the outcome of his campaigns. It's always the fault of someone else.

  • John||

    No wonder he got along with Obama so well.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that his campaign “underestimated” the attractiveness of ObamaCare

    Really? Maybe they also underestimated America's ability to realize what a useless imbecile he is.

  • Brett L||

    Gee, being the second choice of every faction won't win you the election? Shocking!

  • lap83||

    I've seen a lot of compelling theories on Reason (from the contributors to commenters) as to why Romney lost and Obama won, but generally the more thoughtful the theory the less it resonates with my experience of various viewpoints, which are as follows.....

    Socially conservative Romney voter: "He's not Obama! Yeah, he's Mormon and I'm Christian but.....He's not Obama!!!"

    Less religious-centric Romney voter: "God, Obama sucks. Oh, this guy's not Obama? Has a chance in heck? Great!"

    Libertarian "purists": "Team Blue GRRR! Team Red GRRR!"

    Obama lovers: "OMG Romney Binders Rape Birthing Racist camps OMG"

    Obama likers: "Here are some vague reasons for why I want Obama, but really I'm just afraid of the Obama lovers calling me racist."

    There were either more of the Obama likers/lovers than the other guys, or they stole the election.

    The End.

    Maybe some of the Reason commenters know people with less simplistic reasons for voting the way they did, but I have never met any of those people personally.

  • John||

    Romney won among independents and even women. Where he lost and lost badly was among minorities and low information voters. Basically a lot of people don't pay any attention and believed what the media told them that obama was a really nice guy moderate doing his best under bad circumstances and Romney was an evil plutocrat who hated women.

  • Brett L||

    I single-handedly lost FL for him by voting for Gary Johnson according to my Republican friends.

  • califernian||

    you have to be completely ignorant of all things political to have believed for even one second that Romney would have repealed ObamaCare.

    You'd have to be as confused as an Obama voter who thought he was going to repeal the PATRIOT act and close GITMO.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    He was never going to get the chance. A repeal is never going to get 60 votes in the senate.

    I do find Suderman's logic strange:

    1. Romney has no principles would take any position he thinks helps him win votes.
    2. Obamacare is hideously unpopular in the electorate.
    3. Therefore, Romney would never do anything to limit or repeal Obamacare.

    Huh?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Maybe some of the Reason commenters know people with less simplistic reasons for voting the way they did

    I know several people who, because they actually do pay attention, held their noses when they voted for el Magnifico (again). Because what else could they do, vote for a Republican? This of course excludes the ones who repeatedly said the only conceivable reason anybody did not love Him was racism.

  • ||

    On the other hand, had Romney won, it would be cool and fashionable to care about civil liberties, due process, war and the drug war, etc., etc., etc. again.

    I was glancing through music the other day and came across one of those "Rock Against Bush" albums. Haha, all those issues they were supposedly so angry about haven't gone away or are all much worse, yet I'm just not seeing the Obama equivalents.

    I mean, come on, even the dirty hippies of the sixties went on about "hey hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"

  • John||

    They didn't do that until they got rid of deferments. If Obama instituted a draft, the yutes would turn against him in a minute. To be young and liberal is to live in a world where you never have to live with the consequences of your positions.

  • ZinxMinx||

    Sounds like some pretty crazy smack, I like it man.

    www.AnonProx.da.bz

  • 16th amendment||

    I think if they had a more consistent candidate then more right wingers would have showed up to vote.

  • DRM||

    That Romney thinks ObamaCare was popular is exactly what was wrong with him as a candidate.

    Republicans win when they run "right/true believer", and lose when they run "center/technocratic". Democrats win when they run "center/technocratic", and lose when they run "left/true believer". Look at every damn election from 1968 to 2012, by popular vote, for proof.

    If Republicans had run Paul or Perry or Gingrich, any of 'em, they could have won. Attack wastrel stimulus spending, attack TARP bank bailouts ("which Senator Obama voted for", attack ObamaCare, hang Fast & Furious around Obama's neck (Border Patrol fatality and gun rights in English, Mexican fatalities in Spanish-language ads), attack "job-killing regulation" . . .

    I won't guarantee that would win, though that would seem to be the way to bet. But it would have energized the base, at least.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Democrats win when they run 'center/technocratic', and lose when they run 'left/true believer.'"

    You consider Obama to be "center/technocratic"? I just had the pleasure of having someone explain to me how Obama was dreamy because..."free health care for everyone, isn't that great? I wish I could vote for him again."

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Republicans win when they run "right/true believer", and lose when they run "center/technocratic". Democrats win when they run "center/technocratic", and lose when they run "left/true believer". Look at every damn election from 1968 to 2012, by popular vote, for proof.

    So Nixon and Bush I were "right/true believer" while Dole was "center/technocrat"? Not to mention Bush II being "center/technocratic" in 2000 and "right/true believer" in 2004, despite being the same person.

    If Republicans had run Paul or Perry or Gingrich, any of 'em, they could have won. Attack wastrel stimulus spending, attack TARP bank bailouts ("which Senator Obama voted for", attack ObamaCare, hang Fast & Furious around Obama's neck (Border Patrol fatality and gun rights in English, Mexican fatalities in Spanish-language ads), attack "job-killing regulation" . . .

    Other than (maybe) Perry any of those people and issues would have lost independents and driven Dem turnout even higher.

    It seems Republicans and others really underestimated how formidable a candidate/machine BO was in 2012. And it's the height of disingenuity for Reasonoids who wouldn't have voted for any Republican other than (maybe) Ron Paul to tell the GOP they should have nominated Gingrich or Santorum. Please.

  • entropy||

    I think he has a point though.

    You consider Obama to be "center/technocratic"?

    In the manner in which he ran, how he presented himself campaigning, yes. He's Mr. Balanced Approach/Beer Summit. Even Obamacare is supposed to 'make things more efficient and control rising health costs' - NOT 'deliver on the promise of social justice with universal free healthcare for all'. The arguments he puts out are technocratic, utilitarian centrist arguments in tone.

    So Nixon and Bush I were "right/true believer" while Dole was "center/technocrat"?

    As far as the way they campaigned, yes. Not what they were, just how they acted. Bush ran on stuff like 'compassion', and an 'ownership society' - not because it was fiscally prudent but because it was moral and just.

  • jacob||

    I agree that it is ridiculous to assume that Santorum would have won (or Gingrich, really).

    However, I do think Dole was center/technocrat. Ann Coulter is constantly bitching about what a moderate he was.

  • DRM||

    So Nixon and Bush I were "right/true believer"

    By how the candidate was perceived/campaigning, and relative to his opponent, yes. Nixon in '68 was a solid-anti-commie, and only managed a narrow plurality against the party of Chicago convention disorder. Come 1972, he stomped Eugene McCarthy.

    In 1988, Bush I was the No New Taxes guy promising to be Reagan Term Three, running against Dukakis, who wouldn't execute a hypothetical murderer of his own wife. In 1992, he was the tax-raising compromiser running against New Democrat went-home-to-execute-a-retard Clinton. Which pairing was victorious, and which one failed?

    Not to mention Bush II being "center/technocratic" in 2000 and "right/true believer" in 2004, despite being the same person.

    "Compassionate conservative" who talked about how he worked with Democrats in Texas, versus the guy who was being denounced by France and Code Pink and the like for torturing enemies of the U.S.? Hey, you tell me.

    It seems Republicans and others really underestimated how formidable a candidate/machine BO was in 2012.


    A guy with a glass jaw won't go down if you spend all your time hitting his torso with pulled punches.

    And it's the height of disingenuity for Reasonoids who wouldn't have voted for any Republican


    And when the "Reasonoid" is a guy who voted Dole, Bush, Bush, and McCain?

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  • CampingInYourPark||

    "When RomneyCare passed back in 2006, a lot of folks in Massachusetts viewed it as a bid for the presidency: Romney was going to run as the Republican who made health care reform happen. It was going to be his signature achievement. Instead, it turned out to be Obama's, and Romney was stuck in the deeply awkward position of defending the Massachusetts overhaul while taking a hard line against the president's"

    "Romneycare" was proposed to combat a problem, namely the cost of community rating and pre-existing condition coverage that were made law in Massachusetts in the late 90's. It always was, and always will be BS to equate Obamacare, the bill that incorporated those same problems, and the solution, with "Romneycare". It's simply lazy journalism to not know the history of health care legislation in Mass, and attribute the bureaucratic fiasco which is the PPACA to Mitt Romney.

  • ||

    He's right, actually. He lost because he couldn't be a credible OPPONENT of ObamaCare.
    Had the Republican nominated a candidate who was able to tap into the public's opposition to the law, they would have stood a much better chance of winning.

    Romney's angle was effectively incoherent. The only thing he did was try to scare seniors by pointing out that it cut Medicare. Which is the same bullshit tactic that Democrats usually use.
    The guy never had a fucking clue HOW to run against it.

  • I GOT HUNG UP SILLY||

    All the media fuss being focused on Karl Rove's Super PAC$,enabled Democratic supporter elites to sandbag Mitt Romney & other Republican's on the Elites Democratic owned WWW..

    The reports indicated 68% of American's who voted,received their insight on who they should vote for from the www..

    Remember it was also legal for unlimited Inter+National Corp Super PAC$ to have been infused into these Democratic www networks without anyone being the wiser ?

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