Romney, who as Massachusetts governor signed a health care law on which the Obama’s federal law was modeled, has focused more than usual on the Supreme Court ruling this week. In campaign appearances in Virginia, New Jersey and New York, he offered supporters and donors a preview of his likely response to the decision and said Obama’s first term would be essentially wasted if the law is overturned.
If the court upholds the law, Romney told supporters at a northern Virginia electronics manufacturer Wednesday, it’s still bad policy. “And that’ll mean if I’m elected president we’re going to repeal it and replace it,” he said.
And if the court strikes down the law, Romney said, “They’re going to be doing some of my work for me.”
If the court upholds the law, Obama could get an election-year gust of wind at his back, with his vision and leadership validated. If the court strikes down the overhaul, the White House would seek to cast the decision as detrimental to millions of Americans by highlighting popular elements of the law that would disappear, such as preventive care and coverage for young adults on parents’ plans.
The Romney campaign has coordinated its response directly with the Republican National Committee and House Republicans, who have agreed not to “spike the ball” — as one Republican put it — should the law be struck down. His campaign worries that an over-celebratory tone may turn off voters affected by the decision.
Indeed, the stakes are high for both candidates. Polling suggests that most Americans oppose the law, but an overwhelming majority want Congress and the president to find a new remedy if it’s struck down.
Romney so far has spent little time crafting a comprehensive plan to replace the overhaul. And the Obama campaign already has seized on Romney’s opposition to the most popular provisions in the law. For example, Romney would not prevent health care companies from denying coverage to new customers with medical conditions. Nor would he force them to cover young adults on their parents’ plans through age 26.
Still, both sides will use it to raise money and motivate supporters. And outside groups are ready to unleash a flood of advertisements following the ruling, including a 16-state, $7 million ad buy from the conservative political action group Americans for Prosperity.
• AP White House correspondent Ben Feller contributed to this report.