|Rudy Giuliani said yesterday that it is too late for him to enter the competition to challenge President Obama. (Associated Press/File)|
WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is seeking to put distance between the former governor and a consultant who was instrumental in shaping the Massachusetts health care plan.
Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who helped state officials devise the groundbreaking law in 2006, was among those consulted by the White House as President Obama put together his national health care plan in 2009.
It is certainly not news that the White House modeled the national law on the Bay State’s or that Gruber played a role in both. But NBC News reported details yesterday, based on White House visitor logs, of who met whom, and when. It creates fresh ammunition for Romney’s rivals in the GOP primary field, who are likely to continue taking shots at Romney over health care.
So in response to the NBC report, the Romney campaign downplayed Gruber’s role, contending it was limited to producing computer models for the Romney administration. He was not an adviser to the governor, according to the campaign, which did not release an on-the-record statement.
Gruber was certainly a ubiquitous and influential voice during the Massachusetts deliberations over health care, as he advised lawmakers and a variety of industry players. The Globe reported this year that Romney - the former businessman with a fondness for empirical data - was especially taken by Gruber’s models showing how an individual health care mandate would affect insurance markets.
Gruber said in an e-mail: “I was hired by the department of health care, financing & policy to help understand the impacts of reform on both coverage and costs in the state. I don’t know what ‘adviser’ means, but (a) they did pay me to help them (b) Romney did mention me personally in his bill signing speech and (c) Romney did appoint me to the connector board that oversaw implementation of the bill.’’
The effectiveness of the Romney camp background spin probably depends on how voters will perceive the difference between an adviser and a paid consultant. To a certain category of GOP primary voter already suspicious of Romney, it might seem like a small distinction. And it is highly unlikely the other candidates will dwell on the nuances.
Other Massachusetts players consulted by the White House, according to NBC, were John McDonough, a health care advocate, and Jon Kingsdale, the first chief of the Massachusetts health insurance exchange.
Giuliani announces he won’t run for president WOODBURY, N.Y. - Rudy Giuliani confirmed yesterday he will not be a candidate for president next year.
The Republican former New York City mayor told a gathering of Long Island business executives that it is too late for him to join the competition to challenge President Obama.
Giuliani sought the GOP nomination in 2008 but dropped out early. One of his rivals that year was Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and the party’s front-runner this time.
Giuliani said Romney appeals to the party’s head while Governor Rick Perry of Texas appeals to its heart. Romney’s shifts on such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, and universal health care will probably be a problem for his campaign, Giuliani added.
Romney, strong in N.H., inches to the top in Iowa As Mitt Romney continues to dominate the polls in New Hampshire, he is returning to the front of the Republican presidential pack in Iowa - though just barely.
Romney, who has a summer home in New Hampshire, has maintained a steady lead in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Since Friday, three polls - including a new NBC News-Marist poll out yesterday - have him remaining far ahead of his Republican rivals.
But in Iowa, the first caucus state, Romney has not enjoyed quite as strong support. For a time, he fell behind Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who entered the race in August. Now, Herman Cain, a former businessman, poses the biggest threat.
The NBC News poll found Romney with support from 23 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, followed by Cain with 20 percent. They were followed by Representative Ron Paul of Texas at 11 percent, and Perry and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who won the Ames straw poll in August, tied at 10 percent.
Romney has had only limited success appealing to more religious conservative and Tea Party voters, who make up a larger portion of the Iowa electorate. NBC reports that among Tea Party voters, Cain leads Romney, 31 percent to 15 percent.
In New Hampshire, the NBC News-Marist poll has Romney at 44 percent, followed by Paul and Cain, both at 13 percent. The rest of the candidates are at or below 6 percent.