(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty stepped up his attacks on Mitt Romney Sunday, labeling the current health care law "Obamneycare" for its similarities to the plan instituted in Massachusetts while Romney was governor.
"President Obama said that he designed 'Obamacare' after 'Romneycare' and basically made it 'Obamneycare," Pawlenty said on "Fox News Sunday."
The former Minnesota governor previously tiptoed around criticism of Romney's health care plan and the new attack line is the most direct shot at his rival. The two will meet for the first time on a debate stage Monday in New Hampshire.
"The president's own words is that he patterned in large measure 'Obamacare' after what happened in Massachusetts," Pawlenty said. "What I don't understand is they both continue to defend it."
Romney has been critical of President Obama's plan while defending the Massachusetts law as a state experiment that was not meant for the nation.
But Pawlenty used the opportunity to tout his past in Minnesota, where he decided against an individual mandate, the biggest similarity in the Obama and Romney plans.
"I think it's a dramatic overreach by government forcing the consumer to buy a good or service because of a government edict or mandate," Pawlenty said. "I was asked to consider the individual mandate when I was governor on several occasions and I rejected it every time."
CNN hosts the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate on Monday from Manchester at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.
Why do Republicans think acting like children and calling Obama and his policies names gets them anywhere? The only people who buy into this "Odumbo" and "Obamneycare" nonsense are the 33% of people who are going to support a Republican no matter what.
Criticizing Obamacare. That's a new one. It should win him the nomination.
The difference between requiring car insurance and health insurance is that buying a car is optional. If you don't have a car you don't have to buy the insurance. The only way to opt out of the health insurance is to die.
I grew up in Minnesota and may retire back there, so I feel a connection to the state. And so as a Person Of Minnesotan Heritage I would like to apologize to the rest of the country for this Pawlenty guy. He's a smarmy jerk who's apparently cast from the same crude mold as that thing from Alaska. There was a time when Minnesota was a forward-thinking, open-minded place, there are still vestiges of that old greatness, but I think between the religious right gaining a toehold there and racism kicked up by an influx of non-whites, (the two always seem to go hand in hand), something terrible is happening to this friendly dog of a state. Pawlenty and that other woman, Bachman – are as ignorant and nasty a pair as I've ever seen. It's a shameful showing for Minnesota and should serve as a warning to the rest of the country of the cancerous nature of right wing culture. Don't put 'em in charge unless you'd really like to see how far the United States can fall – with all of us aboard it.
This man can't even get a recommendation from his own people in MN.
Paw telling lies on Fox News with Chris Wallace. He left a massive debt in Minnesota. Paw just swinging "paws"! He won't get out of the gate!
From what I have read the people of mass are enjoying there Romney care
NO ONE receiving Federal Health Benefits has the right to tell Americans WHAT KIND of health insurance we should be receiving!