"You don't have to have a public option," Romney said. "You don't have to have the government getting into the insurance business to make it work."
Three years after enacting its own version of reform, Massachusetts now has near-universal coverage.
Taxpayer watchdogs say it's affordable.
"There is this widespread assumption, that is treated as fact, that it's breaking the bank in Massachusetts ... it's not breaking the bank at all." said Michael Widmer of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
And health care experts say it's popular.
"Seven in 10 people in the state support the program, and no more than one in 10 would repeal it." said Robert Lendon with the Harvard University School of Public Health.
Unlike Democratic proposals that would give Americans the choice of joining a government-run health care plan, Massachusetts has no public option. Instead, people in the state are required to buy private insurance, and the poor get subsidies.
Analysts say "Romney care" is basically "Obama care" minus the public option.
As the debate over health care rages on… the American people are increasingly souring on President Obama and the Democrats. A new poll shows the president's approval rating at 51-percent — the lowest of his presidency and down from 61-percent two-months ago.
The Pew poll shows the Democratic Party now has a favorable rating of 49-percent… also down from 59-percent in April and 62-percent in January.
When it comes to the Republican Party — public opinion has remained steady all year at about 40-percent.
Meanwhile it looks like the American people aren't buying into calls for bipartisanship. The poll shows 63-percent of those surveyed say the president and Republicans are not working together on important issues… that’s up from 50-percent who felt that way in June.
Although more people blame the Republicans than President Obama for this lack of co-operation, the poll shows a growing number are now faulting the president. 17-percent of Americans say Mr. Obama is to blame… that's up from seven-percent who felt that way in February.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman has a new gig - at successor Al Franken's alma mater.
Harvard University's Institute of Politics announced Thursday that the former Republican senator will be part of its latest class of teaching fellows.
Other political luminaries joining Coleman at Harvard as resident or visiting fellows this fall include former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, former Kerry and Obama advisor Stephanie Cutter, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A source close to Ted Kennedy tells CNN that he decided to write his letter on how he believed a Senate vacancy should be filled after a series of private discussions in late June with Massachusetts colleagues and friends including Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. William Delahunt.
The Democratic senator wrote the letter on July 2, at a time when he was sitting down to pen a series of letters. But he decided not to send it primarily because, after consulting with Kerry and others, they concluded that it would likely disrupt already intense and tumultuous health care discussions in the Senate at that time.
Read: Kennedy's letter
"He's talking about his potential vacancy here, and the threat of Kennedy's vote on health care is a powerful incentive to get it done," said this source about the thinking at the time. "If the letter gets out, it could have a negative impact."
This Kennedy associate confirms what CNN was told by another Kennedy source - that another factor was his efforts to deal with the failing health of his sister Eunice, who died earlier this month.
The two Kennedy sources say the only reason he actually sent the letter this week was because the Boston Globe had gotten wind of some of his discussions, and were prepared to go with what Kennedy thought was an inaccurate account of his efforts - so he decided to make his desires clear by delivering the letter, knowing it would go public.
One of the sources described how "tough" this letter was for Kennedy to write, a acknowledging he will likely, and soon, no longer be in the Senate.
"It was typical of him - putting this outside himself, and thinking about health care and the state of Massachusetts," said the Kennedy source.
(CNN) - A day after meeting with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, two North Korean diplomats will meet Thursday with community and business leaders in the state to discuss renewable energy initiatives, the governor's office said.
Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the governor would not be part of the briefings because he would be in Las Cruces. However, the governor will try to meet them at the Albuquerque airport before they leave, Gallegos said.
After meeting Wednesday with Kim Myong Gil and Taek Jong Ho - senior diplomats with the North Korean mission to the United Nations - Richardson said that North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States.
"I think there's a little bit of a thaw," he told CNN's American Morning on Thursday. "I think they wanted to basically send a message that they're ready to engage in a dialogue with the United States."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, is urging Massachusetts officials to change a law to allow for an immediate temporary replacement should a vacancy occur for one of his state's two Senate seats.
Under a 2004 Massachusetts law, a special election must be held 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat becomes vacant. The winner of that election would serve the remainder of a senator's unexpired term.
Kennedy, a Democrat who has represented Massachusetts in the Senate for nearly 47 years, was last re-elected in November 2006. His six-year term ends in January 2013.
In a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick and other state leaders, Kennedy said he supports the current law, "[b]ut I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election."
Read: Kennedy's letter
Kennedy, 77, asks the governor and state leaders to "amend the law through the normal legislative process to provide for a temporary gubernatorial appointment until the special election occurs," according to the letter, dated July 2.
Perkins pointed out that Republicans had submitted a number of amendments to health care reform legislation that would prohibit federal funding of abortion.
"Tony, I will support your effort to make sure that abortion is taken off the table in this debate," Wallis told his conservative counterpart, "I'm for that. I'll work hard for that. Let's work together on that. And then you support our moral principle that all Americans should be covered by health care – secure, affordable, accessible health care. Let's work together and make sure that both of those things, in fact, are a part of comprehensive health care reform because the system is broken and we have to fix it. And, don't let abortion derail that effort, please."
"Well, ask the president, then, to take it off the table and accept these amendments," responded Perkins, "and then we can have a discussion on how we fix health care in this country, and I'll be glad to work with you on that because we agree - we need to fix health care in this country."
"We do, then let's do it together," Wallis said.
(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican National Committee reports it raised more than $6 million last month.
In a statement issued Thursday morning, the RNC says it now has $21.8 million cash on hand and no debt. The statement also says the average donor contribution through the end of July was $42.
"The RNC continues to mount a very effective fund-raising effort and we are extremely thankful to the Americans who have contributed to the financial success of our Party. The Republican Party will be successful in the coming elections this fall and in 2010 thanks to the generosity of our donors," said RNC Chairman Michael Steele, in a statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Alaska governor, Sarah Palin last year received a wide variety of unique gifts, according to a supplemental disclosure form submitted to the state government. They included a gun case embroidered with "Sarah" on it sent from Tennessee; a piece of glass elephant jewelry from a California woman, an embroidered cross-stitched blanket entitled "The Special Child" from a Texas woman; and a hand-painted plate with Palin's picture on from a stoneware studio in Kansas.
Palin is required to report all gifts she received by December 31, 2008 in a cumulative value exceeding $250 from a single source.
In the disclosure letter sent to the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Tuesday, her lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, says many gifts were deemed under that total. "Because it can be intrinsically difficult to place a monetary value on some gifts, particularly unique gifts that may be hand made, Governor Palin's disclosure errs on the side of disclosure, even if the value is unknown but could be greater than $250 but may in face be less."
A New Jersey woman sent 2 Army flags she personally made.
Also received by Palin: jewelry made from renewable materials, a piece of stained glass, a custom Bible hand bound in goatskin leather, more than two dozen books and some cds.
The gifts were either sent to her home, the Governor's mansion, her offices or her parents.