Former presidential candidate and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty formally endorsed Mitt Romney for president this morning, telling Fox News’ Fox & Friends that Romney is “unmatched in his skills, and experience, and talent when it comes to turning around this economy and growing jobs.” Pawlenty also walked back his past criticism of Romney’s Massachusetts health care law — a plan he had dubbed “Obamneycare” — and explained that Romney was committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act:
PAWLENTY: Mitt Romney is 100 percent dedicated and committed to repealing Obamacare. He has said on day one and when he’s president, he’s going to issue executive orders that will give states waivers from Obamacare and then he will take the additional steps to repeal it. He understands and believes and has asserted himself, while it was right for states to take different approaches, that it was wrong for President Obama to bring that to a national plan and Mitt Romney is committed to repealing that and I know and trust that that’s what he’ll do.
But back in June, while still a candidate for the presidency, Pawlenty was singing a different tune, arguing that “President Obama designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare.” “We now have the same features, essentially the same features,” Pawlenty said. “What I don’t understand is that they both continue to defend it. I took a different approach in Minnesota, we did market based reforms”:
With today’s announcement, Pawlenty isn’t only patching over his claims that Romneycare laid the foundation for President Obama’s law — he’s defending Romney’s Massachusetts health reforms and parroting his illegal pledge to opt states out of the Affordable Care Act if he’s elected president. The reality is that under the national law, the executive branch and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) don’t have the authority to grant blanket waivers — those powers are reserved for Congress.
Still, this isn’t the first time Pawlenty has praised Romney’s leadership on health care. In 2006, the former Minnesota governor — fresh off a close election victory for his second term — said his administration has been “studying very diligently the Massachusetts model about how that would apply to Minnesota” and pledged to “move in stages” toward “universal coverage.” “Everyone should be in a health plan of some sort…but I think as a goal we should start with covering all kids,” he said. Pawlenty also called the mandate a “potentially helpful,” if incomplete, solution to covering the uninsured but “one that we’re intrigued by and I think at least open to.” He considered the mandate option, but ultimately rejected it.