Posts Tagged State of the Union

Governor John Kasich “Very Likely” To Run For President In 2016

KasichIn a leak from a reliable source over the weekend, it is believe that Ohio Governor John Kasich is “very likely” to run for president, but cautioned there would be nothing definitive for at least a few weeks.

In late April, Kasich made a round of appearances in Washington including at the New America Foundation’s annual conference where he said, “If I can win, I’m likely to run.”

On Sunday, the source close to Kasich, a former congressman who is serving his second term as governor, said that fundraising was still an issue for any possible candidacy. Even so, sources close to Kasich have been sending out positive signals.

Not surprisingly, Kasich has recently ramped up his pre-presidential activities, making media appearances, spending time in South Carolina and New Hampshire, and establishing a so-called 527 political committee. That advocacy group “New Day for America” allows him to raise funds and provides a litmus test of financial support for any eventual run.

In an April interview on CNN’s Sunday show “State of the Union,” Kasich said at least one of his possible competitors Hillary Clinton could win his key battleground state of Ohio.

“Of course she could win. I think anybody on those lists are capable. It’s just a matter of how they project themselves,” Kasich said. “She’ll be a very formidable candidate.”

He declined to address specifics about the current controversy surrounding Clinton and the funding of the Clinton Foundation saying, “When you are involved in both public and private, you have to be very careful.”

Kasich acknowledged his past time spent working for Lehman Brothers before its collapse, could be a factor in his own candidacy. But he freely criticized the industry that used to employ him.

“I’ve said all along that I think there’s too much greed on Wall Street,” Kasich said last month. “The reason I say it is because I saw it. The fact is, there’s nothing wrong with making money. There’s a lot of good. But you can’t just be totally dedicated to making money without, you know, sort of doing some good in the process.”

Back in front of the New America audience, Kasich acknowledged being seen as a presidential contender had at least one advantage.

“One good thing about thinking of running for President is that I get invited to stuff like this, where I can talk about what I care about. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be serving the meal.”


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Obama Aims To Stay Relevant With Sixth State of the Union Address

Obama SOTUWhen President Obama enters the House Chamber Tuesday night, he’ll be delivering his sixth State of the Union address, and also his ninth speech to a joint session of Congress.

Many mistakenly believe his first such speech, delivered on February 24, 2009, just over a month into his presidency, was a State of the Union address. It wasn’t. He spoke about conditions in the country that night, but above all else, his speech was intended not to be a general statement on the health of the country, but rather had a single purpose: to build confidence in his approach to slowing and reversing the recession.

“Tonight I want every American to know this,” he said, “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”

He next appeared before Congress on September 9th of that same year, to clarify the elements of the health-care reform plan he wanted. He tried to be conciliatory and reach out to Republicans and Democrats alike. But he was adamant about ending the debate on the issue and getting legislation enacted.

“The time for bickering is over,” he declared. “The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.”

“Now is the time to deliver on health care, he said emphatically and repeated that sentence.”

That was the speech that will be remembered for a breach of protocol, when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, shouted “You lie” after Mr. Obama stated that his plan would not fund abortion nor provide coverage to illegal immigrants. Wilson was widely denounced, and he later apologized.

It was in that speech that the President also vowed that he would not sign a health care plan that adds so much as “a dime” to current or future deficits.

He delivered his first State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, a year and a week after taking office. It was only at the end of that 70-minute speech that he came to his main message:

“Let’s seize this moment to start anew,” he declared.

“We don’t quit,” he said of America. “I don’t quit,” he asserted for himself. He got to sign his health care bill into law less than two months later, on March 23, 2010.

Mr. Obama was invited to deliver his second State of the Union address on January 25, 2011. He used the speech to call for more U.S. innovation and competitiveness as a way to grow the economy, promote exports and create jobs. It was that night that many members of Congress arranged to sit next to members of the opposite political party, in a symbolic move toward bipartisanship. It didn’t last.

In between his second and third State of the Union speeches, President Obama returned to address Congress again on September 8, 2011, to further discuss ways to grow the economy and create jobs. His plan included a call for tax cuts and incentives, subsidies for infrastructure construction, and funding for teacher and first responder jobs.

Five months later, his third State of the Union was a reprise. He used that speech to unveil a blueprint for “An America Built to Last ” It, too, called for economic enhancement through growth of manufacturing, the energy sector, worker skills and American values.

He delivered his fourth State of the Union on February 12, 2013. It was on that day that North Korea conducted a nuclear test explosion. The president issued a statement at 1:50 a.m. denouncing the North Korean action as “highly provocative and a threat to U.S. national security.” His speech that night was a laundry list of proposals including immigration, gun control and a call to raise the national minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

His most recent appearance before a joint session was January 28, 2014, his fifth State of the Union address. He said it could be “a breakthrough year for America.”

“After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.”

But he said not much would be accomplished unless the “rancorous” arguments over the proper size and function of government were brought to an end. They were not.

So now, President Obama prepares to deliver his sixth State of the Union. For the first time, he faces a Congress in which both chambers have Republican majorities.

He has been previewing his proposals since the start of the year all designed to show he intends to press his agenda, despite a Congress in the control of the opposition.

He wants his speech to keep him relevant and engaged and avoid the appellation every president comes to detest in their final years: “lame duck.”


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President Obama to Start Going on Offense Against ISIS

Obama MTPPresident Obama said it is time for the United States to “start going on some offense” to stop the advances of the Islamic State in the Middle East. “There’s going to be a military element to it,” Obama said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” And what I want people to understand, though, is that over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL.  We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities.  We’re going to shrink the territory that they control.  And ultimately we’re going to defeat them.”

In a wide-ranging interview with moderator Chuck Todd, Obama also signaled for the first time he is likely to dispatch military resources to help deal with a serious outbreak of Ebola in several African countries.

Obama’s remarks on the security situation in the Middle East came as the U.S. military launched a series of new airstrikes late Saturday against the Islamic State, also known by the abbreviation ISIL, which had been threatening to seize control of a second giant dam that generates electricity and irrigation for much of the country. In the “Meet the Press” interview, the president did not specify what stepped-up military efforts he had authorized, but he emphasized, as he has repeatedly, that it would not include commitments of large numbers of U.S. combat troops on the ground.

“This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war,” Obama said. “What this is, is similar to the kinds of counterterrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last five, six, seven years. … We’re not looking at sending in 100,000 American troops.”

The interview marked the start of a concerted effort by the White House this week to more clearly articulate the administration’s strategy to deal with the Islamic State, which has shown sophisticated military capabilities and employed extreme acts of brutality, including the beheading of two U.S. journalists, in gaining wide swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. Obama was criticized by members of Congress for saying two weeks ago that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for increased action.

Obama is set to meet with the bipartisan leaders of Congress at the White House on Tuesday to discuss his plans, and he will deliver a speech to the public on Wednesday, a day before the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks.

“They’re not a JV team,” Obama acknowledged of the Islamic State, after Todd reminded the president that he had referred to offshoots of al-Qaeda as akin to junior varsity terrorist groups in an interview with the New Yorker last January. Obama told Todd he had been referring to other groups, and said the Islamic State “has metastasized, has grown.  And now we’re going to have to deal.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had criticized Obama’s approach to the Islamic State as too cautious, said: “I want to congratulate the president. He is now on the offense. He has put together the coalition of nine nations. His people are in different regional countries as we speak, consulting and trying to bring in other countries in the region. I think that this is a major change in how ISIS is approached. It is overdue, by the president is now there.”

Obama, who has called on Sunni countries in the region to help mount the military and political response to the Islamic State. He said the primary fighting forces in both Syria and Iraq would have to be local troops from those countries. The president said that Congress would be kept abreast of his decisions and that he would seek support for stepped-up U.S. efforts in the region.

“I do think it’s important for Congress to understand what the plan is, to have buy in, to debate it,” Obama said. The speech on Wednesday “will allow Congress, I think, to understand very clearly and very specifically what it is that we are doing but also what we’re not doing.”

Obama said he had seen messages delivered to him from Islamic State fighters in videos that showed the beheadings of the two American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The militant group has a sophisticated recruiting campaign to gain members, Obama said, and effectively employed social media to reach well beyond the Middle East. Other Sunni nations must develop an “effective counter-narrative” to explain that the Islamic State does not stand for Islam, he added. “It is an abortion, a distortion, an abomination that has somehow tied Islam to the kind of nihilistic thinking that any civilized nation should eliminate,” Obama said.

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Obama Criticized By Both Sides Over His Lack Of Response and Urgency On ISIS

dianne-feinsteinAfter President Barack Obama said he didn’t yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria, even a Democrat on Sunday criticized the President’s approach to fighting the extremist terror group.

There’s been the expected GOP criticism: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, said the President’s statement was “unfortunate,” a predictable assessment from someone who disagrees with the Obama’s handling of foreign policy.

But more notable is Sen., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who split with the leader of her party.

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this President and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious,” the California Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Feinstein’s description comes as the Obama administration is implementing a split strategy in dealing with the group now calling itself the Islamic State.

In Iraq, where America recently concluded a long war there, the United States has continued airstrikes against ISIS, including strikes near Amerli. In Syria, meanwhile, the President has been reluctant to pursue military action as a complicated web of factions, including ISIS, is fighting to defeat President Bashar al-Assad, also a U.S. opponent.

While members of both parties indicated that Syria is the most dangerous country in the world right now as it is considered ISIS’ home base, Republicans differed from Democrats in that they insisted that the threat ISIS poses to the U.S. is immediate. “I believe strongly that ISIS does plan on attacking the United States,” Rep. Peter King said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. John McCain went even further on CBS News’ “Face the Nation”: “I think it starts with an understanding that this is a direct threat to the United States of America, that it may be one of the biggest we have ever faced.”

The top Republicans’ statements come just days after British Prime Minister David Cameron elevated the terror threat to “Severe,” the second-highest rating for that country.

But the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, played down the immediacy of a direct attack in the United States on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying strong intelligence “at this point” of an imminent attack on the U.S. does not exist.

Another Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, acknowledged the threat ISIS poses is real, but it’s “a bit of an overstatement” to compare the threat of ISIS to al Qaeda.

“There is no evidence at this point that they are actually doing the sort of command-and-control plotting, planning specific attacks against Western targets, like al Qaeda was, gosh, for better — for almost a decade before 9/11,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

Kinzinger used a cancer analogy describing ISIS, expanding upon an opnion piece written by Secretary of State John Kerry in The New York Times Friday when he said “the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries.”

“If you have cancer in your liver, and it’s spreading to other parts of your body, you don’t just treat the other parts, you treat the liver,” the Iraq War veteran said on CNN’s “State the Union.” “The liver is Syria.”

While the President has been taking heat for saying he doesn’t have a strategy for ISIS, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee discussed the challenges in formulating a strategy, in part, because obtaining intelligence about ISIS from war-torn Syria has been difficult.

“We have got to get the intelligence,” Ruppersberger said.

Smith echoed his colleague’s sentiment.

“We can’t simply bomb first and ask questions later. We have to have the right targets and the right support in order to be effective in stopping ISIS,” he said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Most Republicans, including McCain, are urging immediate airstrikes in Syria, the place where the terrorist group gained traction with its brutal tactics and mostly erasing the border between the Syria and Iraq.

The Arizona Republican joined Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who opened the door last week to putting more U.S. troops in Iraq. McCain said that a comprehensive strategy to defeating ISIS “is going to require some more special forces.”

Ruppersberger was among the Democrats who urged a broad strategic plan that leaves the door open for a variety of actions, which is the message put out by the Obama administration over the past two days, including in Kerry’s opinion piece.

“If we need to go … to protect ourselves from ISIS, we will, but it’s got to be a coalition,” Ruppersberger said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Democrats insisted that building an international coalition in the region and beyond is the first step.

“We have to build that coalition,” Smith said. “We need reliable partners to work with in the region.”

But Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, said the President should have been building that coalition for the past year.

“It’s just very, very late in the game and it presents fewer options,” Rogers said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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Competing Republican factions deliver response to President Obama’s SOTU Address.

McMorris RodgersRepublicans in the US Congress responded in competing voices on Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address as various wings of the party vied to advance their prescriptions for the country’s best way forward.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who delivered the sanctioned Republican response to Obama, queued up long-standing party doctrine that “champions free markets and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you.”

McMorris Rodgers, a five-term congresswoman from Washington state, took a broad swipe at Obamacare, the 2010 landmark healthcare law that Republicans have tried to repeal, delay or significantly alter nearly 50 times since its enactment.

“We’ve all talked to too many people who have received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have,” McMorris Rodgers said of the Affordable Care Act, which got off to a troubled start.

“No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s health-care law is not working,” she said.

Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, two favourites of the anti-Washington Tea Party movement, staged separate responses to Obama’s speech.

Paul, who joined the Senate in 2011 and is often mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed to the conservative base of the Republican Party.

“Economic growth will come when we lower taxes for everyone,” Paul said. “Government spending doesn’t work.”

McMorris Rodgers is relatively unknown nationally, even though as No 4 House Republican she is the highest-ranking female member of her party in Congress. She also holds the distinction of being the only person to give birth three times while serving as a member of the House of Representatives.

Discussing her eldest child’s Down syndrome diagnosis, McMorris Rodgers brought a softer tone to her party, which is often accused by Democrats of helping the rich at the expense of the poor and middle-class.

“Today, we see a 6-year-old boy who dances to Bruce Springsteen, who reads above grade level and who is the best big brother in the world,” McMorris Rodgers said, adding, “We see all the things he can do, not those he can’t.”

Her moment in the limelight came as Republicans see November’s congressional elections and the 2016 race for the White House as opportunities to close a “gender gap” that contributed to their 2012 election losses.

That gender gap was on full display in 2012, when Obama received 55 per cent of women’s votes, while failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got 44 per cent.

Even as Republicans tried to broaden their appeal with women voters, they pushed through the House on Tuesday a partisan bill that would make it more difficult for some women to get abortions.

One year ago, a USA Today/Gallup poll found that by a 53-per cent to 29-per cent margin, Americans said they wanted the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision granting abortion rights to be kept in place.

Attacking another gap among Hispanic-American voters Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida delivered a speech closely tracking McMorris Rodgers’ but spoken in Spanish.

In 2012, Obama won 71 per cent of the Hispanic vote to Romney’s 27 per cent. Since then, House Republicans have blocked comprehensive immigration reform moves that are important to Latino voters.

In his address to a joint session of Congress, Obama called for finishing work this year on comprehensive immigration reform.

Ros-Lehtinen was vague about immigration reform’s prospects in the House, noting that Congress needed to “fix our broken immigration system with a permanent solution,” she said in a Reuters translation of her remarks.

On Thursday, House Republican leaders are expected to make public their “principles” for pursuing immigration reform this year. It was unclear whether those principles will advance any further amid deep Republican divisions.

An outspoken opponent of such legislation, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, on Tuesday warned: “Ten million Americans are unemployed and millions more have given up looking.

“We should put them first,” before giving “work permits” to people who came to the United States illegally, Smith said.

Like McMorris Rodgers, Senator Lee also demanded a smaller federal government.

The rise of the Tea Party helped Republicans win control of the House in the 2010 elections, but some of its Senate candidates in the past few elections have fallen short, leaving that chamber in the hands of Democrats.

Nevertheless, the Tea Party’s war against large federal budget deficits set the agenda for Congress in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when Democrats and Republicans battled each other over spending cuts.

Tea Party initiatives, Lee said, ranging from welfare and criminal justice reforms to ending corporate subsidies, “will put Americans back to work, not just by cutting big government, but by fixing broken government.” After all the pomp of a presidential State of the Union speech, complete with standing ovations and celebrities in the audience, McMorris Rodgers, Lee and Paul may have known they would have a tough act to follow with their response speeches.


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Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers to rebut Obama State of Union speech

state_of_the_unionRepresentative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking female Republican in the U.S. Congress, will deliver her party’s response to President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday announced they had selected McMorris Rodgers to present the high-profile speech.

The 44-year-old conservative was relatively obscure before being elected House Republican Conference chair, the No. 4 leadership position in the Republican-controlled chamber, in November 2012.

McMorris Rodgers has represented her district in eastern Washington state since 2005, establishing a solid conservative voting record by opposing federal funds for abortion and legislation encouraging equal pay for women.

She also voted against Obama’s healthcare reform law and the $820 billion economic stimulus measure the president won in 2009 to help jump-start the ailing U.S. economy.

McMorris Rodgers is also the only woman to give birth to three children while serving in Congress.

The State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress is an opportunity for the president to outline his broad themes and legislative priorities for the coming year.

The choice of McMorris Rodgers to deliver the rebuttal comes

about nine months before November’s congressional elections and as Republicans try to improve their appeal to women voters who heavily favored Obama, a Democrat, in his 2012 re-election.

“Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class,” Boehner said in a statement.

Early in the 2012 presidential campaign, McMorris Rodgers was sometimes mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney, who ultimately chose another House Republican, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

While the opportunity to rebut the president’s State of the Union address can be a public relations dream for many politicians, it comes with risks as well.

In 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was in the limelight and at the time was seen as a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

But Jindal’s speech was widely criticized by pundits who said it fell flat.

Last year, another Republican presidential hopeful, freshman Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, told a national audience of his humble beginnings as the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio attacked Obama’s domestic policies while trying to soften his party’s image as a defender of the rich.

But much of Rubio’s message was swamped by a bottle of water – one that he reached for out of camera range in the middle of his speech – that he needed to lubricate his dry mouth.

The nationally televised gaffe became the butt of comedians’ jokes and political pundits’ speculation on whether his chances for the White House had been diminished.

McMorris Rodgers is expected to attack Obamacare – a theme Republicans have been pounding away on since the law to expand health insurance coverage to millions of Americans was enacted in early 2010.

Republicans have argued that Obamacare is unworkable, will cost jobs and raise healthcare costs despite Democratic claims to the contrary.

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Midweek victories bring Santorum’s stances under media scrutiny

Beware GOP supporters in placing too much faith and belief in Rick Santorum’s ability to win the nomination or General election. In a week that saw Santorum win three states and raise $3 million in fundraising, his first appearance on Sunday shows as a potential leading candidate brought questions that his socially conservative views will alienate working women. I like Santorum as a candidate on social values however, if anyone seriously believes he can lead the charge against President Obama in the fall and win, they are gravely mistaken. Santorum’s rise should be viewed as a hot-air balloon that will burst and come crashing back to earth with a bang. Not if, only a matter of when!

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania minimized Mitt Romney’s victory in Saturday’s straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, implying that the Romney forces had somehow rigged the win.

“For years, Ron Paul’s won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, and they come in and vote and then they leave,” Santorum told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “I don’t try to rig straw polls.” “Do you think Governor Romney rigged it?” Crowley asked.

“Well, you have to talk to the Romney campaign,” said Santorum, who Tuesday won Missouri’s primary and caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado. “We’ve heard all sorts of things.”  The truth for most conservatives like or loath it at this stage, is that Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich are the only two serious candidates, that can hope to challenge President Obama on a national level. I’m not dismissing Ron Paul’s candidacy, I just happen to believe he will be kingmaker in the eventual decision of where the GOP nomination goes, not the nominee himself.

“Rick Santorum has a history of making statements that aren’t grounded in the truth,” said  Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Yesterday Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll and won a separate nationwide survey of conservatives conducted by CPAC organizers. Also, Mitt Romney won the Maine caucuses.”

Santorum, who did not campaign in Maine, said he was satisfied with his third place finish in the state. He said he expects to compete strongly in Arizona and Michigan, which hold primaries Feb. 28, thanks in part to the more than $3 million he raised this week, a stunning amount for a campaign that has so far been run on a shoe string. He said on “Meet the Press” that he plans to release his tax returns early next week.

Many pundits have suggested that Santorum’s deeply conservative views on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, contraception and working women could present formidable obstacles in attracting moderate and independent voters if he were to become the GOP nominee.

“Meet the Press,” host David Gregory read a passage from Santorum’s 2005 book “It Takes a Family,” which was written as a response to Hillary Clinton’s 1996 bestseller “It Takes a Village.”

“ ‘The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishment are the key to happiness,’ ” read Gregory.

In response, Santorum said that his own mother worked, and earned more than his father — “somewhat unusual in the 1950s and 1960s.” He said that section of the book was co-written by his wife, Karen, a former nurse and lawyer who left the workforce to stay home with the couple’s seven children.

When his wife quit working, she “felt very much like society and those radical feminists that I was referring to were not affirming her choice,” Santorum said. “All I’m saying is … we should affirm both choices. … That’s what the book says, and I stand by what I said.”

Santorum has often touted himself as the only uncompromised conservative in the race, with a record of working to shrink government.

But while in the Senate he reached across the aisle to work with many high-profile Democrats, including Joe Lieberman, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Crowley played a 2006 TV spot cut for Santorum’s losing Senate reelection campaign. In it, he held up a newspaper and said: “This paper, they say ‘The real problem with Rick Santorum is he’s too liberal.’ They didn’t like my legislation calling for a raise in the minimum wage. And the White House probably called me a lot of things, but I fought their efforts to cut Amtrak funding.”

Santorum said he voted many times against increasing the minimum wage, but supports the concept. As for giving federal funds to Amtrak, he said, the issue was important to his Pennsylvania constituents, but he has since changed his mind: “Amtrak funding would be one of those things that’s just going to have to go.”

Crowley asked Santorum to explain why it was acceptable for him to have supported a program that was important to his state, but not acceptable for Romney to have embraced universal health care when he governed Massachusetts only to oppose the federal version that President Obama signed into law.

“And yet Mitt Romney is criticized by you and others when he says, ‘Listen, I did what was best for my state when I … signed healthcare into law,” said Crowley. “It was not a federal thing. … He was representing his state at the time. What’s the difference here?”

“It’s very different than having the government mandate that you buy health insurance,” said Santorum. “That’s a very different thing than a transportation program.”

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