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Seems Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have each sold a few more books lately — to each other's campaigns.
Romney used Perry's comments about Social Security in Fed Up!, the Texas governor's screed against federal expansionism, to portray Perry as a foe of the popular retirement program. Then, at the Sept. 22, 2011, Fox News/Google debate in Orlando, Perry struck back by suggesting that Romney had altered the paperback edition of his book No Apology to downplay his support of the Massachusetts health care plan.
PERRY: "Speaking of books and talking about being able to have things in your books, back and forth, your economic adviser talked about Romneycare and how that was an absolute bust. And it was exactly what Obamacare was all about.
"As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said it 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. So, speaking of not getting it straight in your book sir, that would be a ..."
ROMNEY: "Gov. Perry, we were talking about Social Security, but if you want to talk about health care, I'm happy to do that."
FOX HOST BRET BAIER: "We are going to have a round on that."
ROMNEY: "I actually wrote my book, and in my book I said no such thing. What I said, actually -- when I put my health care plan together -- and I met with Dan Balz, for instance, of the Washington Post. He said, 'Is this is a plan that if you were president you would put on the whole nation, have a whole nation adopt it?' "
"I said, 'Absolutely not.' I said, 'This is a state plan for a state, it is not a national plan.'
"And it's fine for you to retreat from your own words in your own book, but please don't try and make me retreat from the words that I wrote in my book. I stand by what I wrote. I believe in what I did. And I believe that the people of this country can read my book and see exactly what it is."
We wondered: Had Romney really touted Massachusetts-style health care for all — then deleted it?
We got copies of the paperback and hardcover editions.
Romney's changes to the book have been explored before, by Boston political journalist David S. Bernstein. He noted in February that Romney had added harsher language on the national health care law as passed: "Obamacare will not work and should be repealed," and, "Obamacare is an unconstitutional federal incursion into the rights of states."
Romney more clearly explained ways that he disagreed with implementation of the Massachusetts law.
He also changed this line, which came after a paragraph touting the success of the Massachusetts health plan:
HARDCOVER: "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care."
PAPERBACK: "And it was done without government taking over health care."
Why make the change? Well, Romney was in quite a spot. His hardcover was written when the national health care policy supported by President Barack Obama included a public insurance option. So his Massachusetts plan, by comparison, kept "private insurance and personal choice intact," he wrote.
Then the Democratic plan passed, without the public option. And it looked uncomfortably close to Romney's plan. As PolitiFact's Angie Drobnic Holan has written, both leave in place the major insurance systems: employer-provided insurance, Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for the poor. They seek to reduce the number of uninsured by expanding Medicaid and by offering tax breaks to help moderate income people buy insurance. People are required to buy insurance or pay a penalty, a mechanism called the "individual mandate." And companies that don't offer insurance have to pay fines, with exceptions for small business and a few other cases.
Suddenly, the line in the hardcover edition to "accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country" as Republican Romney had done for Massachusetts was pretty close to what the Democratic president had done nationally.
So Perry was right that there was some strategic editing.
But a closer look at Romney's original hardcover shows Perry was distorting what Romney wrote when he told the former Massachusetts governor, "Between books, your hard copy book, you said it 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."
Here's the quote with full context from Page 177 of the hardcover:
"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 of 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."
So Romney's not really saying "it was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them." He's in fact presenting a defense of state-level choice — not a pitch for a mandatory national approach. It's like a shout-out to other state leaders: Hey, you can have what Massachusetts has!
And it's consistent with what Romney fired back at Perry in the Sept. 22 debate: "This is a state plan for a state, it is not a national plan."
Perry's right that Romney's comments about health care were edited between editions. Among other things, a line that advocated the Massachusetts model as a strong option for other states was replaced by a shorter, more generic sentence. But Perry exaggerates by making it sound as though Romney had advocated his state's plan as national health care policy -- a potentially damaging position in a Republican primary. That's not what Romney wrote. We rule Perry's claim Mostly False.
Transcript of Sept. 22, 2011, Republican presidential debate in Orlando, Fla. (via CQ Newsmaker Transcripts)
PolitiFact, "Mitt Romney says Rick Perry wrote that Social Security is a 'failure,' " Sept. 12, 2011 (True)
PolitiFact, "Mitt Romney says Rick Perry believes Social Security is unconstitutional," Sept. 12, 2011 (Mostly True)
Rick Perry, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington," 2010
Mitt Romney, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," 2011
PolitiFact, "RomneyCare & ObamaCare: Can you tell the difference?" May 18, 2011
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