(CNN) - In a Thursday speech that was equal parts college lecture and campaign stump, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a defense of the health care "experiment" he implemented while governor and slammed the Obama administration's health care reform law as a federal "power grab."
The potential GOP presidential contender said he would "issue waivers for all 50 states" to opt-out of health care reform on his first day in office should he be "lucky" enough to become president. He expressed the same sentiment in an op-ed for USA Today Thursday, which explicitly detailed his five-point plan.
Romney faced down criticism from fellow GOP hopefuls including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as well as possible questions from conservative voters whom he may rely on for support, should he choose to run. He opened his address at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with an explanation of how the Massachusetts plan differs from one-year-old health care reform.
He joked that some may ask "I heard that your plan in Massachusetts is a lot like President Obama's plan," and question why he's so anxious to repeal it. And Romney responded with a lesson in American history.
"The people in America are sovereign," he said, explaining that the framers decided "states would be the laboratories of democracy and compete with one another."
"I'm convinced that the Obama administration fundamentally doesn't believe in that American experiment," he continued. "They distrust that states are the ones with the power to decide."
Romney countered criticism by asserting that the Massachusetts plan was such an experiment. Though his action was "a plan for the state of Massachusetts," he described health care reform law as "a power grab by the federal government."
And according to Romney, the differences between his plan and Obama's are many, but similarities exist as well-and he's not willing to apologize for one of them.
Though he "respects" those who believe he should've taken a different course as governor and realizes that his explanation is "not going to satisfy everyone," he would not reject the individual insurance mandate included in the Massachusetts plan - the pesky similarity to federal health care reform that serves as fodder for criticism from both sides of the aisle.
"It wouldn't be honest," Romney said. "I, in fact, did what I thought was right for the people of our state."
The 2008 presidential candidate attempted to put distance between the president and himself, while moving closer to his base, by calling the health care reform law "an economic nightmare" and the reason "why this recession has taken to so long to move on from."
He also insisted that his reform would "share some of the objectives" of the plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, which he touted as including choice, inserting market dynamics, and keeping Medicare solvent.
Romney's silver bullet solution to health care reform is to drive costs down by encouraging "the consumer to care about the cost and the quality" of their own health care and to "get health care to work like a market."
In the end, he's confident that voters will see it his way.
"If I am the nominee on the Republican side of the aisle and I get the chance to debate President Obama, this is what we're going to talk about," he said.
"I'm confident that the people will say the Mitt Romney U.S. reforms, that's a lot better than Obamacare."
One potential opponent for Romney wasted no time in issuing a response to his speech.
Santorum released a statement following Romney's remarks that criticized his "work to institute the precursor to national socialized medicine."
"Both Romneycare and Obamacare infringe upon individual freedom and exponentially increase the government's health care cost burden," Santorum said.
"We need leaders who believe in the American people again, not the power of government to solve our problems…the Governor had the right to implement Romney-Obamacare at the state-level, but that does not make it the right thing to do."
The Republicans, the most thematic party in the United States, did well naming the health bill Obamacare, simply because, Obama Cares!!!!
ABO 2012 (anyone but obama)
Between 1861 and 1865 we had a civil war that settled the question of "States Rights" for once and for all. what is there about that, that Mitt doesn't understand!
any one who drags Health Care reform will be defeated like crazy...
Mitt , just say your health care plan is a work in progress and so fare so good ! Be a man and take credit where credit is due .
Also , did any of your children do any active military service , YES or NO ?
If you flip-flop too much, you won't remember what you said and when.
We distrust Obama
While I've not been a supporter of Romney, I did listen to his entire speech today and I'm not really sure where all the criticism is coming from. It was a meticulous explanation and comparison of his product and record with that of Obama's...I found it very interesting. It’s very easy for the fringe left to simply throw bombs at Romney over his healthcare law and what is being described by many as “flip-flopping” but that is intellectually dishonest if you watched the speech. Discount Romney at your own peril, he could be a real challenge for Obama.
I believe the Senators should give up their health care first.
Palin didn't know she was talking about her own Party when she used the term "death panels". The insurance industry will be the deciders, and guess who owns stock in the insurance companies? Good guess, the GOP deep pockets do.
Not true. Obama distrusts Republicans. Let's not forget the backers of Bush vs Gore don't really believe in states' rights. It is nothing more than just another talking point like all the rest.
From what I have observed concerning Obama; he not only distrusts the United States, but he distrusts anything and everone that are not associated with socialism and Marksist leanings. He is a dyed in the wool communist throughout.
Typical conservative nonsense. They say they are against government domination, but they only mean the federal government. Its okay if the government dominates and controls your life as long as its the State Government. Yeah Right. Strom Thurmond used the same states rights arguments in the 1950's to try to maintain segregation. I doubt history will look any kinder on Mitt.
If Obamacare was the right thing to do it would have passed while the Dems had majority. It did not pass because the people have spoken and want a more free market not government run. Government run means wasted money and time! Have you all not been a government office...they could care less to help you. As opposed to a business owners that is competing for your dollar.
Who scares you more: Romney, Palin or Trump? If one of them become president, I would suggest leaving the US and becoming an illegal immigrant in Mexico (might be fun to turn the tables a bit).
Mitt Romney is teh best Candidate the Republicans have. DOn't think the christstains will vote for him since he is a Mormon
Please, someone ask the people of Massachusetts if they like Romney's health insurance plan? I cannot afford it or afford to deny it.
and I reapeat what Ms. Ann Coulter said at C-PAC if the GOP nominates Mitt Romney they will LOSE! Now how can even a moderate like myself disagree with such logic?
i cant stand none of you politicians! ypu give Americans a bad name. more so the smaller minded right wing fringe
If Mitt the twit is elected, he will change a few things on healthcare, then take credit for it just like when he saved the 2002 Olympics. Everything was already in place by Mike Leavitt, Didi Corradini, and Dave Johnson. The bribary scandel broke Mitt came in about a year before to SAVE it. What a warrior.
It were the south free labor that built the wealth in the north thereby it time they pay up. The people all across this country have the right as everyone else have good health care.
Romney has money and he has great hair - but he has no game and he has nothing to say. His only asset is that he's not quite as toxic as Newt, Trump, Palin, or any of the other corporate shills masquerading as candidates.
It's a simple choice in 2012. Either you support the party who caters to the rich and oil companies while the middle-class struggles or you can support a president who isn't perfect but will do more for the middle-class and actually cares about human beings. Republicans have their hands full taking orders from their rich/corporate
To be honest I'd distrust the state governments after they wasted the Recovery Act funds on 90,000 dollar tennis courts that no one uses, while at the same time firing teach police and road workers.....
My name is Mitt Romney just tell me what I have to say to get elected. Any old twist will do, so long as I win, and avenge my father's loss...