Democrats went on the attack against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) ahead of his highly-anticipated healthcare speech Thursday in Michigan.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) sought to portray Romney as a flip-flopper on healthcare by crafting some mock slides for the Powerpoint presentation Romney is expected to deliver this afternoon at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
"The reality is that today’s speech will be only the latest in a series of politically calculated acts in Mitt Romney’s contortionist struggle to tout the health reform law he passed in Massachusetts while bashing the federal reform modeled on that law," the DNC said in its release.
DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that Romney is "twisting himself into a pretzel" trying to tailor his message to different audiences.
He will say that he "now supports repeal and replace," during his Michigan speech, Wasserman Schultz said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program. "What he is trying to do is repeal and erase his own record."
The mock Powerpoint presentation can be seen here. It dredges up four instances — in 1994, 2006, 2008 and 2009 — in which Romney voiced support for the individual mandate, or for a healthcare plan containing the plan.
Democrats aren't just looking to create mischief in the Republican presidential primary; they're trying to underscore conservatives' suspicions about Romney's ideological instincts, and paint the former Massachusetts governor as a political chameleon who's willing to shift positions to build political support.
The conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal got in on the action against Romney on Thursday, too, voicing those same concerns about the Massachusetts health plan.
"[T]he debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election," the Journal's editors wrote Thursday. "On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Trail 2016: And then there was one Biden to make first WHCD appearance: report If you’re going to meet with Merrick Garland MORE and get on the Obama ticket."
Romney faced similar concerns from conservative voters when he ran in 2008. They worried about his position on abortion rights, for instance, after he'd said earlier in his career that he supports them. (Romney has since become a critic of abortion rights.)
The DNC has been relatively inactive so far in the GOP primary, but Romney's speech is arguably the biggest moment so far in the nascent campaign.
And they're not the only ones on the left who are gleefully needling Romney ahead of his speech today. Protect Your Care, a group dedicated to bolstering Obama's healthcare law, will run a series of online ads Friday inviting readers to "learn how Romney laid the groundwork for healthcare reform."
-- This post was updated at 7:16 a.m.