Obama, Romney campaigns both tout controversial healthcare records

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Polls show that public approval of Obama’s health law is divided, and its opponents tend to be more energized than its supporters. Romney, meanwhile, has faced deep skepticism from conservatives because his Massachusetts reforms were the model for Obama’s effort.

But both campaigns invited the healthcare debate Wednesday.

Obama typically mentions his signature healthcare law on the campaign trail, but he rarely devotes much time to it. He fully embraced the law, though, during a campaign speech in Colorado.

Obama cited certain benefits, most of them specific to women, and also wove healthcare into his broader argument for a second term.

“I don’t think a working mom in Denver should have to wait to get a mammogram because money’s tight," Obama said.

Earlier in the day, the Romney campaign voluntarily noted that its candidate had also expanded coverage to millions of people.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul raised the issue on Fox News while discussing an anti-Romney ad in which a man describes his wife’s death from cancer.

“To that point, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” Saul said.

Conservatives were apoplectic — at the website RedState, Erik Erickson said the comment “may mark the day the Romney campaign died.” Radio host Rush Limbaugh was equally distraught, calling it a “goldmine” for Obama supporters.

Romney rarely mentions the healthcare reforms he signed in Massachusetts, which formed the basis for Obama’s effort. He has chosen instead to focus his healthcare message solely around his pledge to repeal “ObamaCare.”

Healthcare was a big issue during the GOP primary, when Romney’s challengers argued that he wouldn’t be able to draw a sharp contrast with Obama on the issue. Pressed on the similarities between his law and Obama’s, Romney said the reforms were right for his state but should not have been implemented on the federal level.

The issue has receded since then, however, and Obama also hasn’t made it a centerpiece of his campaign. He didn’t take much of a victory lap after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June, saying simply that the debate had been settled and it was time to move on.