Mitt Romney said Sarah Palin’s attack on his health care program the same day as his official announcement in New Hampshire was “probably the best thing that could have happened to [him],” in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN Monday night.
Palin’s statement, which also happened in New Hampshire, was viewed by many as a deliberate move to steal the spotlight from Romney on his big day. But Romney said that was a good thing.
At this point in the race, he said, “your greatest enemy is over-exposure.”
“Sarah Palin is generating enthusiasm and interest in the campaign and that’s a good thing,” he continued, adding that “this is politics,” and as she might very well enter the race at any time, it was her prerogative to do what she felt she needed to do.
Romney disputed Morgan’s characterization of him as the polar opposite of Palin.
“I think she and I both believe that government is too big,” he said.
“Whether you’re a Tea Partier or another wing of the party, right now the message that you’re hearing is government is too big,” he added. “The message is the same.”
In the first part of a two-part interview, the rest of which will air Tuesday, Romney took on some of the other characterizations that have dogged him: the idea that he is too stiff and buttoned down, and the idea that he lacks passion.
Morgan noted that Romney was not wearing a tie during his presidential campaign announcement, to which the former Massachusetts governor quipped, “Well I stopped wearing my suit to bed at night, and I figured as long as that’s the case I might as well.”
“I ask the one person who counts,” he said, explaining his outfit. “That’s my wife.”
Romney said that his passion was evident in the very fact that he was leaving the private sector to return to politics.
“I think we are on a precipice economically,” he said.
Romney reiterated his battle cry that Obama has not demonstrated he knows what to do when it comes to the economy.
“What the president did in almost every dimension was the exact opposite of what was needed,” he said. Instead of trying to promote growth in the private sector, Romney said, Obama “protected government jobs, union jobs, and, if you will, saluted to the union bosses who helped fund his campaign.”
Romney also defended the health care program he implemented as governor of Massachusetts, saying that health care reform should be the province of the states, and that President Obama may have modeled his plan on Romney’s, but he was wrong to impose it in a “one size fits all” manner on the entire country.
“If I’m president, I would repeal Obamacare,” said Romney, of the program reputedly modeled on the very program he implemented as governor of Massachusetts. He added that he would grant waivers to all fifty states.
“Give it to the states,” he said, of the responsibility for reforming the health care system.
Romney pointed to a poll conducted by the Boston Globe that shows that citizens of Massachusetts approve the program he instituted three to one. Obamacare may be a controversial issue in the country as a whole, but it’s not a particularly hot button issue in Massachusetts, Romney said, proving his point.
“States have differences that you have to accommodate,” he said.