Palin Slams "RomneyCare" in Massachusetts

By Scott Conroy - June 2, 2011

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By Scott Conroy

BOSTON -- 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.

Palin added that Romney may have a "good argument" that what he implemented in Massachusetts applied only on a statewide level and would not be appropriate nationally. But then she quickly went back on the attack.

"However, even on a state level and a local level, mandates coming from a governing body, it's tough for a lot of us to accept because we have great faith in the private sector and in our own families and in our businessmen and -women in making decisions for ourselves," Palin said. "Not any level of government telling us what to do."

Palin said that she is not yet close to making a decision on whether she will mount a White House campaign and added that the Fox News Channel has not set a deadline for her to decide whether she wants to keep her job as a paid analyst at the TV network or run for president.

After a brief tour of the Bunker Hill museum on Breed's Hill, her bus rolled north out of Boston and set on a collision course with Romney in New Hampshire, where he was making his campaign announcement in the town of Stratham on Thursday afternoon.

Palin once again denied that she was attempting outshine Romney on his big day in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"I can promise you that was never a consideration at all," she said. "In fact, if he personally would be offended by me stepping foot in a state he was in, I wouldn't do it. But I don't believe that Governor Romney is offended at all that we happen to have on our schedule a stop to meet some good people and have some good New Hampshire food at this time."

Several Boston media outlets -- whose reach extends into New Hampshire -- covered Palin's remarks in Boston, and New Hampshire's biggest television station, WMUR, also had a camera present.

All of the ingredients were coming together for a Romney vs. Palin local news narrative that could pay some dividends for both contenders in a crowded presidential field.

Asked why she was waiting so long to make her own decision about whether to join the fray when candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have been calling for the campaign to get under way in earnest, Palin took another opportunity to differentiate herself from the field.

"Because it's too early," she said. "That is one thing that I disagree with Pawlenty on is [him] believing that it all needs to happen right now. I think he says that because that was his strategy, but I obviously don't follow anybody's strategy and don't just kind of go with the flow in the conventional way of doing things."

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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