Washington (CNN) - With the Republican base largely unified in its contempt for President Obama's health care law, Sen. Jim DeMint, an icon of the tea party movement, has been forced to explain his early support for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's health care plan, which was a model for reform on the federal level.
The South Carolinian cited the "innovative" Massachusetts health care plan when he endorsed Romney's 2008 presidential bid, saying the plan leveraged "good conservative ideas" like bringing private insurance companies into the process.
DeMint told CNN over the weekend at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans that he supported Romney's campaign in 2008 because he admired the then-governor's attempt to fix the broken health care system.
"At the time I was very interested in any governor who took that on, because I knew if states didn't, we'd end up with something like 'Obamacare,'" DeMint said.
Since then, DeMint explained, "we have come to the point that what they did in Massachusetts did not work, and it's not something that should be a model at the state or national level."
"I think the goal of getting everyone insured and making insurance available to everyone is very important," he told CNN. "But I think we can find better ways to do it."
Romney has condemned the Obama plan in the harshest terms as a federal takeover of health care, but says that states like Massachusetts should be allowed to develop their own solutions. "Mitt Romney and Senator DeMint both agree that 'Obamacare' is a bad law, and that it should be repealed," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said when asked about DeMint's comments.
DeMint said his concerns about "Romneycare" are centered on the health care exchanges created by the plan and the accompanying mandate that every Massachusetts resident purchase health insurance, lest they be hit with a financial penalty.
"I have never supported a mandate," DeMint said. "It's just not a good way to make things work in our country, to require somebody to do something. There are different opinions on that but I have always appreciated anyone who had the courage to take it on."
DeMint has not taken sides in the 2012 presidential race but told CNN over the weekend that he "will know by the fall" which Republican he will support.
He said he is keeping an "open mind" about the candidates and did not rule out supporting Romney again.
DeMint's endorsement would be a major boost for any Republican candidate hoping to win the pivotal South Carolina primary.
Another instance of Republicans manufacturing flaws in Obama in order to run against him since none of them have any really good ideas. Gay rights? already done. The war? they started it? The Economy? hard to blame Obama's handling when they signed into place all the reasons we have the problems we do.
They have no reason to run, so they will make issues up.
Sounds like a classic "I was for it before I was against it" moment. All these guys who supported Romney because he was a Republican in MA are now having to back-peddle like crazy.
Has nothing to do with whether The Plan has a D or an R next to it. Repub.s are incapable of acting dishonorably or hypocritically. Just ask them.
It was ok when the white guy enacted it. But when the black guy came up with an almost identical plan, not so much.
Republicans all were for it until Obama was for it. This is the game the Republicans have been playing ever since Obama was elected. Mandates were the Republicans idea.
It Obama is for the Republicans are against even if they are the one that came up with the idea. American is starting to see right thou the party of I was for it before I was against it.
@Since then, DeMint explained, "we have come to the point that what they did in Massachusetts did not work, and it's not something that should be a model at the state or national level."
Actually Romneycare works well in Massachusetts!
The Republican objection isn't really against the individual mandates. (Millions of new customers. Ya kiddin' me.)
The true object by Republicans is against the coverage mandates on the insurers. Now they cannot drop people at will.
Jim DeMint is completely irrelevant. His opinion means absolutely nothing.
DeMint sounds like he is as big a "flip flopper" as Romney. Like a broken record, anything Obama is for the party of "Grumpy Old People" is against. They offer no solutions, only criticism of the President to score policical points.
As front runner, Romney will face stiff opposition and criticism from social conservatives, wingnuts, and Tea Party zealots. Prior supporters, like DeMint, will abandon Romney and look for cover when the campaign become heated. The big question is: Are there enough moderate GOP voters for Romney to overcome the social conservative/Tea Party wing?
Isn't this the same guy from the Country First Party that said ,"Health Care will be Obama's Waterloo", with a sinful little grin on his face ?
Republicans have vigorously advocated individual mandates for health care for almost two decades. Enough said.
Another republican flip flopper. So, what else is new?
Ha! Jim DeMented is now trying to squirm with his lies and "factually incorrect" endorsement of Obarmey Care!...you remember, the same Healthcare plan that President Obama signed into law at the federal level since it was deserving of the people of Massachusetts and was largely endorsed by the GOP stalwarts, including Demint, Romney, etc....but are now AGAINST IT!!!
Like your plan to fix medicare?
Still waiting to hear a better idea regarding healthcare from the right. You can't just say we need something better without offering specifics.
GL is absolutely right. The mandate was first proposed by a republican during the Clinton attempt at health care reform. We need Obama's health care reform and we need Americans to realize that the only way it will work is if everyone is invested in having affordable, quality health care. If the Republicans keep attempting to dismantle it, the poor and middle class will be the ones to suffer.
You forget called Obama's health Care Reform will be waterloo. So it did pass. pffft.
These Republicans are only interested in keeping big insurance and pharmacy companies in business because they are all invested in them and their lobbyist pay well. It's not about you and me it's about money for the rich.
Republicans tripping over their own words in the race to see who can get the furthest to the right, again. I'd laugh if it weren't so tragic to see voters supporting them, against their own best interests.
A bigot and a hypocrite pure and simple.
It seems that most of the opinions today prove what many Americans already knew. The GOP was for the Healthcare Reform before they were against it. They were outraged when the Democrats got the bill passed instead of them. Now, they will shaft the American people, yet again, for their own selfish political reasons. The Tea Party and the GOP are self destructing.
Flip flop, flip flop. They were for it until Obama adopted it, so now they have to be against it.... sigh. When will Republicans grow-up?
So as long as Romney's name was next to it, it was okay, but take that away and put Obama's name next to it and suddenly it's not so okay. Coincidence? I think not.