Less than an hour before former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney officially entered the presidential race, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stood on a hill overlooking her prospective GOP rival's home turf and ripped into the signature issue that has long dogged him: the universal health care reform bill that Romney signed into law here in 2006, which included an individual mandate to buy insurance.
After noting that he would be a "great candidate," Palin quickly changed her tune when asked about Romney's record.
"I think that he'll have maybe a bit more challenges with independents who make up the tea party movement, wanting to make sure we are not going to -- we won't have any excuses or perceived political reasons to grow government," Palin said. "In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, obviously, and I am not the only one to say so. But obviously there will be more explanation coming from Governor Romney for his support of government mandates."
Pressed on whether Romney would have a particularly difficult time attracting support from members of the tea party movement, Palin did not hold back.
"That perhaps will be a big challenge for him because tea party activists are pretty strident, in a good way, in making sure that the candidate that many of the tea party patriots will support -- the candidate has a record of living out the principles that tea party patriots do embrace," she said.