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Despite repeated "Mostly False" ratings from the Truth-O-Meter, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has continued to claim that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, altered his book between editions to remove a sentence that said his 2006 Massachusetts health plan, including its mandate that people buy insurance, should serve as a model for a federal health plan.
That statement by Perry was first examined by PolitiFact after the Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate Sept. 22, 2011, when Perry said to rival candidate Romney: "Between books, your hard copy book, you said (the Massachusetts health plan) was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out."
Perry was correct that a line in Romney’s book No Apology — "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care" — was altered for the paperback edition.
However, PolitiFact National concluded that considering the sentence from the hardcover edition out of context masks the larger point Romney was making.
What Romney said in the hardcover edition:
"My own preference would be to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model if they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. These plans, tested in the state 'laboratories of democracy' could be evaluated, compared, improved upon, and adopted by others. But the creation of a national plan is the direction in which Washington is currently moving. If a national approach is ultimately adopted, we should permit individuals to purchase insurance from companies in other states in order to expand choice and competition.
"What we accomplished surprised us: 440,000 people who previously had no health insurance became insured, many paying their own way. We made it possible for each newly insured person to have better care, and ultimately healthier and longer lives. From now on, no one in Massachusetts has to worry about losing his or her health insurance if there is a job change or a loss in income; everyone is insured and pays only what he or she can afford. It's portable, affordable health insurance — something people have been talking about for decades. We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care."
Romney was not saying that the Massachusetts law should be the model for the country the way that Perry described it. In fact, he was advocating that each state decide what its health care system should be, not pitching for a mandatory national approach. It was like a shout-out to other state leaders: Hey, you can have what Massachusetts has!
Fast-forward to the Dec. 10 GOP debate in Iowa, where Perry revived the claim, telling Romney, "I read your first book, and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts which should be the model for the country. And I know it came out of the reprint of the book. But, you know, I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend." Romney responded by saying that Perry's charge was off the mark. And then, in one of the most-talked-about moments from the debate, Romney offered to wager $10,000 that he was right and Perry was wrong — a bet Perry did not accept.
PolitiFact National again rated Perry’s claim Mostly False — and for the same reasons as before.
Perry wasn't done. The day after the debate, he made a similar statement when asked about Romney’s $10,000 offer by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. "The issue of individual mandates is still at the center here, and Mitt can deny this as many times as he wants, but in his first book, hardcover of No Apologies, he clearly stated that individual mandates should be the model for this country," Perry said. "And then he took that out of the book, in the paperback. That's the fact, and even a $10,000 bet is not going to cover that."
To read the full PolitiFact analysis of Perry’s claim, click here. (Some of you may want to click three times!)
ABC News, transcript, Republican presidential debate, Dec. 10, 2011
Fox News Sunday, transcript, Dec. 11, 2011
Rick Perry's presidential campaign, video, "The Truth Cannot Be Bought," Dec. 11, 2011