A member of Rick Santorum's staff sets up a backdrop outside the US… (Brendan Smialowski / AFP…)
The Republican candidates for president used Monday’s Supreme Court hearing about President Obama’s healthcare law to promote themselves as the best choices to take him on in the fall.
Rick Santorum, who appeared on the steps of the court, later said that rival Mitt Romney’s absence highlighted that he was unqualified to take on Obama on the issue.
“Mitt Romney cannot run this race on Obamacare,” Santorum said on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” reiterating statements he made over the weekend that Romney was the worst Republican to run against Obama on the matter because of the Massachusetts healthcare law, approved while Romney was governor, that served as a model for the federal law.
“The whole world is watching what’s going on here in Washington, these Supreme Court arguments; Mitt Romney’s 3,000 miles away,” he said.
“He should be here. This is an issue that Barack Obama is running [from] -- he’s 7,000 miles away. He doesn’t want anything to do with Obamacare. They celebrated the anniversary last week, no comment, nothing.”
“The person who fashioned the blueprint and advocated for the blueprint to be adopted at the federal level which Mitt Romney did is in fact uniquely disqualified to make that argument,” Santorum said.
Romney brushed aside Santorum’s comments.
“I’m not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days,” Romney said on CNN. “I know when you fall further and further behind, you get more animated.”
He pledged to repeal the federal healthcare law. “I will stop it in its tracks on day one,” he said.
Romney also continued to defend the state plan he crafted while governor, saying states have the right to impose mandates while the federal government does not, and that his plan did not include new taxes while Obama’s plan does. And he chided Obama advisor David Plouffe, who over the weekend called Romney the “godfather” of Obama’s plan.
“He’s the Rumpelstiltskin of the campaign. He’s trying to turn a straw into gold and it’s just not going to work for them,” Romney said.
Newt Gingrich predicted that the Supreme Court would find the mandate that Americans must have health insurance unconstitutional. He said that because the law did not contain a severability provision, it ought to be struck down in its entirety.
“That would truly be a historic decision,” the former House speaker told CNN.
Original source: GOP candidates fight over healthcare amid Supreme Court deliberation