Gingrich ad: Romney ‘can’t beat Obama’ because of healthcare

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Romney appears close to locking up the Republican nomination, and Gingrich’s campaign is fighting for an advantage as the former House Speaker battles Santorum to be the conservative alternative.

Obama’s national healthcare law was modeled largely on reforms that Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. The Gingrich ad lists some of their common features, including a requirement that most people buy insurance as well as “big bureaucratic insurance exchanges.”

Exchanges and the mandate both started off as conservative ideas, but the mandate in particular has become anathema to the right after Obama’s healthcare law passed. Gingrich supported a mandate in the past, but he says now that he made a mistake.

The ad also shows former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — now a Romney surrogate — lumping the two healthcare laws together under the name “ObamneyCare.”

Doubts about Romney’s ability to attack Obama on healthcare are hardly confined to the fledgling Gingrich campaign. Democrats say the bruising Republican primary has effectively taken the issue off the table for Romney, despite its power with the Republican base.