By Justin Sink - 04/12/12 11:57 AM EDT
The Obama campaign is using the sixth anniversary of Massachusetts's healthcare law to needle rival Mitt Romney — and try to neutralize an issue Democrats see as a campaign liability in the fall.
Team Obama released a Web video Thursday that uses some of Romney's former top policy advisers when Massachusetts governor to drive home the idea that the state law was the model for the president's own healthcare reform law.
"I helped Gov. Romney develop his healthcare reform, or RomneyCare, before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law," says MIT economics Professor Jonathan Gruber, a central figure in the policy development for both bills.
"The core of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, and what we did in Massachusetts are identical," Gruber adds. "All of a sudden Mitt Romney started attacking basically what he had done."
The video includes footage of Romney thanking Gruber for his assistance on the "bold healthcare initiative I'm about to sign."
John McDonough, who also helped develop the plans, offers similar criticism of Romney for not supporting the president's healthcare law.
"People have him recorded as promoting Massachusetts health reform, promoting it as a national model. And now he is saying he wants to tear down the very model he was promoting," McDonough says.
Video of Romney arguing for the Massachusetts bill as a "model for getting everyone insured" is also included.
The video is the Obama campaign's first explicit argument of a point made repeatedly by Romney's primary opponents — that it will be difficult for the former governor to land punches on the president's unpopular initiative when the national law is largely modeled on his own signature legislation. In the campaign, Romney has maintained that he objects to the individual mandate, the controversial requirement that requires all Americans to buy health insurance and is now being examined by the Supreme Court, as unconstitutional.
The move by the Obama campaign also likely a bit of revenge for the Republican National Committee loudly mocking the president last month for not celebrating the anniversary of his healthcare reform bill.
The RNC released a Web ad showing a bill — anthropomorphized, "Schoolhouse Rock"-style, with a birthday hat — crying at popular Washington landmarks because the president wouldn't celebrate its birthday.
The party also unveiled a large banner on the side of its Washington headquarters proclaiming, "Happy Birthday ObamaCare! We didn't forget you."