In the face of criticism from his potential rivals, Mitt Romney has defended the controversial healthcare law he signed as governor of Massachusetts.

The healthcare reform law could be a tough issue for Romney if he runs for president in 2012. While governor, he signed into state law a healthcare plan that includes an individual mandate — as the federal law does.


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who has suggested that Romney apologize for the bill, criticized the Massachusetts healthcare law in his new book.

"Any critical assessment of this program will show that it failed … and yet the Obama administration decided to emulate it in its pursuit of a national health-care program," Huckabee writes in A Simple Government. "If our goal in health-care reform is better care at lower cost, then we should take a lesson from RomneyCare, which shows that socialized medicine does not work. Period."

Romney had largely avoided the issue recently, barely mentioning it during his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month.

But his spokesman responded strongly to Huckabee’s criticism.

"Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered," Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Boston Globe. "What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing ObamaCare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work."