HAD ANY OF THE SEVERAL hundred VIPs funneling into Faneuil Hall assumed they were headed to a run-of-the-mill legislative bill signing, the two banners greeting them inside would have instantly disabused them of the notion: “MAKING HISTORY IN HEALTH CARE” they read in foot-high letters. And on this day, the boast just happened to be true. It was April 12, 2006, and Governor Mitt Romney was going to sign the nation’s first universal health care program — known as Romneycare — into law.
Romney, already eyeing the presidency, didn’t underplay the drama. Programs for the signing were printed on faux parchment and handed out to guests along with commemorative lapel pins. The procession of lawmakers, including Romney, US Senator Ted Kennedy, and more than a dozen others, was led to the stage by a fife and drum corps dressed in full Colonial regalia. “Obviously, I’d like to express appreciation for Cecil B. Demille for organizing this event this morning,” Romney quipped after taking the podium to a long wave of applause.