DeMint won't back Romney without repudiation of Mass. health law

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) "would never consider" endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president again in 2012 unless Romney repudiates the health reforms he sought as governor, a source close to DeMint said Thursday.

A source close to the conservative icon emphasized that, despite comments to The Hill indicating that Romney shouldn't shoulder all the political blame for the Massachusetts healthcare plan, DeMint wouldn't endorse Romney again unless he admits the plan was mistaken.

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"It's obvious Jim was just trying to be nice to the guy he backed over McCain, as many conservatives did in 2008," the source said. "But he would never consider backing Romney again unless he admits that his Massachusetts healthcare plan was a colossal mistake."

DeMint told The Hill that he hadn't decided who he would endorse in the 2012 Republican presidential primary and said that Romney wasn't entirely to blame for the elements of the Massachusetts healthcare plan that conservatives now deplore.

DeMint said:
One of the reasons I endorsed Romney is his attempts to make private health insurance available at affordable prices. He set the goal that all folks in Massachusetts would have affordable health insurance. By the time it got through the Democratic state legislature, it had all these mandates on it, requirements about what kind of policies would be bought — the same thing that happened up here — instead of getting people insured, it was a government takeover. So I applaud the goal — my goal is to have every American with a private health insurance plan that they can keep throughout their lives. And so, I still admire him for taking on the task, but I think it's important to recognize that that's not where we want our healthcare to go. States can compete with different plans, but we shouldn't have anything like what they did in Massachusetts at the federal level.

Romney's faced considerable scrutiny from some conservatives and other Republican presidential candidates for his plan, which bears many resemblances to the healthcare plan President Obama signed into law a year ago. It contains an individual mandate to purchase insurance.

Other Republicans on Capitol Hill who backed Romney in 2008 have afforded him a great deal of leeway over the plan, arguing that it is hardly a death blow to Romney's presidential aspirations.