Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Romney misleads, flawed Perry video says

Rick Perry posted this anti-Mitt Romney video October 20, 2011.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest video, posted online Oct. 20, 2011, casts former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as misleading.

Perry’s video has misleading elements itself.

In its opening clip, Romney is shown telling an interviewer for CBS News that he was happy the Obama administration was copying the idea of insurance exchanges from a health care overhaul he earlier signed into law in Massachusetts. The federal health care act signed into law by Barack Obama in 2010 includes exchanges -- marketplaces for residents to purchase private health insurance coverage -- like ones in the law approved by Romney.

CBS briefly interviewed Romney on June 24, 2009. Perry’s video shows Romney being asked: "How do you insure the 45 or 50 million Americans who are not on the books?" Romney’s reply: "Well, that’s what we did in Massachusetts. And that is we put together an exchange and the president’s copying that idea. I'm glad to hear that."

Viewers might take the excerpt as a sign Romney was generally cheering on the Democratic president’s approach to expanding health care access. But the reporter was asking Romney what he'd advise Obama not to do. Romney replied that he'd avoid having government run an insurance plan--a point he hammered twice. One of his comments: "Don’t set up a government insurance plan because it’s going to end up costing billions of dollars in subsidy. It’s the wrong way to go." Romney also took issue with Obama pointing out private insurers are profitable. A lot are not-for-profit efforts, Romney said.

Another snippet in Perry’s video originated in a December 2007 edition of NBC's Meet the Press showing its host, Tim Russert, who died in June 2008, asking Romney about the Massachusetts law's mandate that individuals obtain health coverage. In Perry's video, the viewer sees and hears Russert asking: "Why, if it's good for Massachusetts and it's working in Massachusetts, wouldn't you apply it to the rest of the country?" Romney's reply: "I would."
   
As we noted per an earlier Perry video, an obvious conclusion would be that Romney supports a national individual mandate, a feature of the the 2010 federal law that opponents have unanimously decried. In reality, the next part of Russert's interview of Romney indicates the candidate isn't on board with a national mandate.

Viewers of the Perry video don't hear this exchange:

Russert: "A mandate?"
   
Romney: "No. Let me tell you what I would do, just exactly as I described. I like what we did in Massachusetts. I think it's a great plan. But I'm a federalist. I don't believe in applying what works in one state to all states if different states have different circumstances."
   
Later in the interview, Romney says: "Given the kind of differences between states, I'm not somebody who's going to say what I did in Massachusetts I'm going to now tell every state they have to do it the same way. Now, I happen to like what we did. I think it's a good model for other states. Maybe not every state, but most.
   
"And so what I'd do at the federal level is give to every state the same kind of flexibility we got from the federal government, as well as some carrots and sticks to actually get all their citizens insured. And I think a lot of states will choose what we did. I wouldn't tell them they have to do our plan."

Perry’s latest video revisits whether Romney cut a line from his 2009 book saying the Massachusetts health insurance law should be replicated nationally before it was reprinted as a paperback. And Perry’s video shows Romney saying at a 2011 debate that he said no such thing in his book.

Romney's comments about health care were edited between editions of his book. Among the changes: A line that advocated the Massachusetts model as a strong option for other states was replaced by a shorter, more generic sentence. Perry’s video exaggerates by making it sound as though Romney had advocated his state's plan as national health care policy. That's not what Romney wrote. PolitiFact earlier rated as Mostly False Perry’s claim in a debate that Romney touted the Massachusetts health plan for the nation in his hardcover book but deleted it for the paperback.

Finally, Perry’s new video airs pieces of his exchange with Romney in the Oct. 18, 2011, CNN Republican presidential debate about undocumented workers who mowed Romney’s lawn, an episode exposed years ago. In the debate, Romney said he doesn’t think he’s ever hired an illegal worker. In 2006, the Boston Globe reported that the workers at issue were illegal immigrants employed by a company hired to mow Romney’s lawn.

Perry’s video includes part of Romney’s explanation from the debate. Recapping what he described as his conversation with a company official, Romney said he told the official: "I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake; I can’t have illegals."

A fuller excerpt of what Romney said: "So we went to the company and we said, ‘Look, you can't have any illegals working on our property. I'm running for office, for Pete's sake; I can't have illegals.’ " Once questioned, Romney said, it turned out the company had hired "someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them."