Washington (CNN) – One day after Mitt Romney formed a presidential exploratory committee, a potential competitor - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour - said Tuesday that Romney should be allowed to "have his day" but also took a swipe at Romney's signature health care law saying, "We [Mississippi] don't want it."
The comments from the potential presidential candidate come on the fifth anniversary of the health reform law enacted in 2006 during Romney's term as Massachusetts governor. Democrats in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and elsewhere are drawing attention to the passage of "Romneycare," asking voters to "Thank Mitt Romney," and making comparisons between the Massachusetts law and the national health care law passed under President Obama.
Many have cited similarities between the two plans, specifically how both mandate the purchase of health insurance as a way to lower costs.
Barbour was asked about the issue as he spoke at a Congressional Health Care Caucus forum on Capitol Hill. The bulk of his comments were devoted to Medicaid reform. Among other things, the governor advocated states receiving block grants as a way to save money, and continued to push for the unraveling of what he and other critics call "Obamacare."
But during a question-and-exchange session, Barbour was asked about Romney's health care law.
"If Massachusetts wants that, more power to them. That's their business," Barbour said. "We don't want it. It would not be a good system for us. And we would not choose it in Mississippi. And frankly, we oppose the Obama administration trying to force it on us."
After his speech, reporters continued to press Barbour on Romney.
"Let Mitt [Romney] have his day. I mean, he just announced," Barbour said initially.
And yet moments later, when asked about comparisons between "Romneycare" and "Obamacare," Barbour responded: "I think the similarities are obvious. Whether there are political liabilities – you'll have to ask somebody besides me."
- Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN