Whether or not they think he stands a chance, most pundits agree that Mitt Romney will be running for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket, which would mean running against President Obama. If Romney is going to compete in the 2012 GOP primary, he'll have to champion conservative rage against Obama's health care reform. So it's curious that Romney is increasingly touting the near-universal health care plan he implemented while governor of Massachusetts, while at the same time harshly criticizing Obama's similar health care plan. What on Earth is he up to? 

  • Romney: My Plan is Tougher, More Conservative  Politico's Jonathan Martin says that it all comes down to the phrase "free riders," which Romney uses to explain his plan's inclusion of a mandate that, like in Obama's plan, forces everyone to buy insurance. Romney argues the mandate eliminates the "free riders" from the health care system, making it more economical. "Expect to here that phrase quite a bit from Mitt Romney in the months ahead," he writes. "And he's going to use it whenever he's asked about similarities and differences between the two approaches. It may not be easy to convince a conservative base that believes the mandate is an encroachment on individual freedom, but Romney's case is that the requirement is actually fiscally conservative."
  • Mitt's Doomed Politics  The New Republic's Jonathan Chait explains why Republicans will never bite. "Republicans believe that the Affordable Care Act is socialist tyranny. Romney's position is basically that socialist tyranny is okay as long as it's imposed on a state-by-state basis. I don't see this argument winning over the GOP base."
  • Obama: My Plan Just Like Romney's  The Washington Post's Greg Sargent thinks that Romney should be very concerned about Obama's recent declaration that his health care plan is similar to Romney's from Massachusetts. "It highlights just how difficult it will be for Romney to navigate this vexing Romneycare-Obamacare conundrum in the GOP primaries. His opponents will merely take footage like this and air it in endless Web videos and even paid ads, forcing Romney to explain away the similarities ad infinitum."
  • How Obama Can Ruin Romney  The American Prospect's Adam Serwer chuckles that Obama is "practically cutting campaign commercials for Romney's rivals. In doing so, he's effectively undercutting his most likely opponent, who is already known to even his prospective allies on the right as 'Multiple Choice Mitt' because of his reputation for flip-flopping. All he has to do is keep saying Romney's name."
  • White House Wants More Conservative Opponent  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein suspects the strategy is meant to draw a sharper comparison between Romney and the more conservative primary opponents he will inevitable face in 2012. They want the more conservative Republican to win, as they believe he or she will be "totally unelectable" and help reveal "the Fox Newsification of the Republican Party."