The Democratic National Committee said Mitt Romney's appearance on Fox News Channel this morning was "vintage Romney" -- and it didn't mean it in a nice way.
Romney -- the former Massachusetts governor, 2008 GOP presidential contender, and possible 2012 hopeful -- slammed the Obama administration on health care and climate change bills, saying that Americans are souring on the president and his Democratic allies.
"They see a cap and trade bill that would add the cost to the American family of $1,761, they don't like that," Romney said. "They see a health care plan where government would ultimately be able to take over health, they don't like that."
But the DNC asserted that Romney supported a similar Northeast regional cap-and-trade system -- limiting carbon emissions and creating a market for pollution credits -- as governor.
It also pointed out that Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization, concluded that the claim is false. While the $1,761 figure has been propagated on various conservative websites and repeated by other politicians, it assumes that all the pollution credits would have to be bought by industry, which would pass on the entire cost to consumers. But the latest bills would give away some of the credits and would earmark the revenue from the sale of credit to help offset higher power bills for consumers.
The DNC, however, failed to acknowledge that while Romney initially supported the Northeast plan, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, he backed out in December 2005, citing concerns over the cost to consumers.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom responded, "Governor Romney refused to sign the RGGI agreement because of his concern for how much it would cost individuals and businesses in terms of higher electricity prices. It's hard to fathom how even the most hardened Romney critics at the DNC could construe that to mean he supported RGGI."
"The $1,761 per family average cost of a national cap and trade program is truly frightening. Barack Obama himself said that under his cap and trade proposal, energy prices would 'skyrocket.' It looks like his prediction is right on the mark," Fehrnstrom added.
The DNC also asserted that the health care bills before Congress share quite a few proposals with the system that Romney helped push through for Massachusetts.
"On Fox News this morning, Mitt Romney reminded us why he was such a flawed candidate in the 2008 election," the DNC said. "In pandering to the right wing, he criticized a health care plan that is not unlike the one he helped pass as Governor of Massachusetts and criticized a cap and trade plan that is similar to the one he once endorsed as Governor. While Romney changes his position on every issue he once supported to once again appeal to the right wing, it raises the real question of why he thinks they will believe his new positions this time when they didn't buy his make-over last time."
Despite criticism from conservatives that the plan has been a failure and raised costs, Romney takes pride in authorship of much of the Massachusetts health care plan, but stresses that it does not include the government-run public option that most Republicans vehemently oppose.
"I as a Republican governor reformed health care, and not every aspect of the reform was perfect," Romney told the Values Voter Summit. "But we did get everybody insured without breaking the bank and without a government option."
Romney also made headlines over the weekend with his appearance at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, where he unleashed a barrage of attacks on Obama and the Democrats.
"I'll bet you never dreamed you’d look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days," he said in one of his barbs. (Read more of his remarks here.)
After winning the presidential straw poll at the summit in 2007, however, Romney finished a distant second this time to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, also a rival for the GOP nomination last year.
Also, the DNC is blasting Romney for holding a fund-raiser today for Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, whose views on women have come under scrutiny, particularly after disclosure of a 20-year-old graduate thesis that appeared to denigrate working women.
"I suppose if Mitt Romney's trying to burnish his right wing credentials to make up for the credibility gap with his party's base that his serial flip-flopping has earned him, embracing a candidate so extreme that he believes that women shouldn't work outside the home, victims of rape and incest should be denied medical options, and even married adults should not have access to contraception, is a good way to go," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.