On a Friday morning conference call with reporters, two Republican surrogates for the Mitt Romney campaign revealed two different strategies for responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold Obamacare: focus on Romney's ability to fix an ailing economy above all, and push a broader conservative message about the role and scope of the federal government.
Virginia governor Bob McDonnell said Romney has the "fortitude" to repeal Obamacare and emphasized that Romney believes building a stronger economy requires getting rid of the law.
"Mitt Romney’s been unequivocal long before yesterday’s decision but for a year that this is a top priority for his administration, that on day one he would do everything he could administratively to gut the mandate of Obamacare, that he’d grant waivers to the states, and that he’d launch in action a repeal statute to get it off the books and replace it with a policy that honors federalism and honors free market principles in order to provide greater access and lower costs in health care," said McDonnell. "If you’re focused on jobs, you need to get rid of the biggest federal power grab in American history."
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, speaking after McDonnell, insisted that the Court's decision means the presidential election will be more focused on competing ideas and visions of the role of the federal government.
"I think this election, more than many recent presidential elections, is really not about personalities, debating styles. I think its about two contrasting visions for America," Jindal said. "So I think when Governor Romney is elected, he will have a strong mandate from the American people, and they’re going to be saying to President Obama and his liberal allies, ‘We reject this whole Occupy Wall Street perspective. We reject this whole class warfare perspective. We reject this whole expansion of government spending, borrowing, and power.’"
Until yesterday's Court ruling, the main message from the Romney campaign has been that the economy is in a slump and that former governor of Massachusetts is better equipped to fix it than is President Obama. Romney's speech Thursday morning in Washington, just an hour after Obamacare was upheld, suggests the campaign may see a political opening—and make the argument broader.
The politics of running against Obamacare, Jindal suggested, would favor Republicans and could even peel off some Democrats—and that would mean Romney would have an easier time passing full repeal. "Not only are you going to have an energized Republican majority wanting to work with him," Jindal said. "I predict you’ll have many Democrats from swing states that will also vote with the new Republican majority to repeal Obamacare."