(CNN) – The chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party spoke kindly of likely presidential contender Mitt Romney Monday, defending the passage of the health care plan he signed while governor of Massachusetts.
"It really was an innovative experiment, he's a very smart man and what he did was he came up with this program geared for the state of Massachusetts, it was never meant to be some model for a national health care program," Jack Kimball said on CNN's "John King, USA" Monday. "And Mitt Romney's made it very clear and as recently as a few weeks ago to me that he's in favor of complete repeal of 'Obamacare' and that each state should come up with their own plan."
"It shouldn't be as big an issue as folks are making it," Kimball added.
Romney, who announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee Monday, passed the health care law – which has similarities to President Barack Obama's health care plan – five years ago.
Romney's plan and the current health care law include the individual mandate that requires all residents, with some exceptions, to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The former Republican governor has received some criticism over the plan from other potential 2012 candidates.
But looking ahead to the New Hampshire primary, Kimball, who mentioned former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, said there are "very good" candidates in the current field.
"All of them would be far better than what we currently have now," Kimball told CNN National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin. "I'm excited about the landscape as it's shaping up, and of course New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is very important and we kind of consider ourselves the state that does the vetting for the nation."