Tim Pawlenty went on Sean Hannity's TV show last night to express his regrets for not criticizing Romneycare at Monday night's debate:
"I think in response to that direct question, I should have been much more clear during the debate," Pawlenty said. "I don’t think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of ObamaCare and then continues to defend it."
"I don’t think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are a co-conspirator in one of the main charges against the President on a political level," Pawlenty said. "I understand that Governor Romney argument that it is different at the state level. When you look at these two plans with only modest variations thy are very similar and nearly identical."
Pawlenty went on to say it's important for Republicans to discuss their differences in a "respectful, policy-based way." But what's been missing from all of Pawlenty's attacks on Romneycare is an actual policy-based argument.
On Fox News Sunday, he labeled the two programs "Obamneycare." He asserted the programs are similar but did not make an argument explaining how they're similar. In his Hannity interview, Pawlenty made an argument you might hear from a political strategist more concerned about "framing" a debate than winning an argument: "I don’t think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are a co-conspirator in one of the main charges against the President on a political level." He asserted the programs are similar, but he did not make a "policy-based" argument. (This is what it looks like to make a devastating "policy-based" argument.)
Pawlenty can't assume that Republican primary voters are all health care policy experts at the Cato Institute who understand the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare. Mere assertions that the two programs are nearly identical aren't going to cut it. He needs to make an argument.