2012 contenders jockey for conservative support on 'ObamaCare' anniversary

Republicans sought to outflank each other Wednesday with the most novel idea to undo President Obama's healthcare reform law, which turns 1 today.

Potential GOP presidential candidates each offered their own condemnation of "ObamaCare" to mark its first anniversary, and proposed their favorite way to undo it.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he would issue an executive order on his first day if he were president, allowing waivers from the reform law for all 50 states.

"If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states," Romney wrote in a blog post for National Review Online. "The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them."

Romney wasn't the only one to chime in.

"The law hasn’t even been fully implemented yet and Obamacare is already a disaster," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a statement marking the anniversary, calling it a "scary laboratory experiment" resembling Frankenstein.

"If the new Congress won’t repeal it, then they need to defund it — and with major elections looming next year perhaps it’s time for this Administration to really start paying attention to what the American people want," he said. "Let’s not let Obamacare turn two."

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that if courts don't do away with Obama's reforms, he would immediately seek the repeal of healthcare reform.

"One year ago today, President Obama signed into law the federal government takeover of healthcare, one of the most flawed and misguided laws in modern history," Pawlenty said in a statement, noting his own role in signing onto a court challenge of the law.

"If courts do not do so first, as president, I would support the immediate repeal of Obamacare and replace it with market-based health care reforms," Pawlenty added.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, urged congressional Republicans to attach a version of the repeal bill they passed earlier this year to legislation authorizing an increase in the debt ceiling.

"House Republicans have the votes to put it in the debt ceiling. They should do it very early. And then they should go to the country and focus attention on the Democrats in the Senate," Gingrich said Tuesday evening on conservative talk radio.

Many of the Republicans now considering running for president have spent the better part of the past year castigating the law they ridicule as "ObamaCare." But the occasion of the law's one-year anniversary presents the GOP contenders with an opportunity to prove their bona fides with conservative primary voters.

Heaping scorn on healthcare reform is particularly important for Romney, who's faced criticism from conservatives for the similarities between the healthcare plan he implemented as governor and Obama's eventual plan. (South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint suggested last week that Romney would have to disavow it to win his endorsement.)

Romney's statement made no explicit mention of the Massachusetts reforms, but asserted states' rights to experiment with different healthcare plans — a subtle defense of Romney's own reforms.

Other 2012 contenders, like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are expected to weigh in, too.


—This article was first posted at 6:30 a.m. and updated at 12:59 p.m.