WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney cited his record on Wednesday in shepherding through the Massachusetts health care law as a sign of his empathy for all people, talking far more openly than usual about a law that has caused him so much strife with conservative Republicans.
“Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney told NBC late Wednesday afternoon. “One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
Minutes later, Romney spoke again on health care, this time with a very different message.
“I will repeal Obamacare and replace it with real health care reform,” Romney said during the rally in Toledo, Ohio. “Obamacare is really Exhibit No. 1 of the president’s political philosophy, and that is that government knows better than people how to run your lives.”
The dichotomy of his statements illustrated the tightrope Romney has had to walk in pledging to repeal Obama’s federal law, while simultaneously trying to take credit for the state-level plan he signed into law in Massachusetts.
Romney cited his health care plan as a sign of his empathy a week after a video emerged showing Romney dismissing nearly half of the electorate, telling donors at a May fund-raiser that 47 percent of voters considered themselves victims and were too dependent on government to consider voting for him.
After a series of polls have showed him falling behind in key swing states, Romney conducted a series of television interviews on Wednesday. He told ABC News that he was undeterred by the recent polls — “Frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down,” he said — and adding that the first debate next week could mark a turning point for his campaign.
In addition to health care, Romney told NBC that his time as a Mormon pastor illustrated his ability to care for people in need. Romney has also been reluctant to talk about his Mormon faith throughout his political life, but in recent weeks has started allowing reporters to go with him to Sunday services, and has allowed those from his church to speak about how he helped them.
— MATT VISER
Santorum, DeMint endorse Akin in Missouri Senate race
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Senate candidate Todd Akin won two high-profile Republican endorsements Wednesday, a day after guaranteeing his candidacy in Missouri would continue despite calls for him to quit because of comments about rape and pregnancy he since has apologized for.
Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Senator Jim DeMint, a Tea Party favorite, said they would support Akin’s challenge to Senator Claire McCaskil, a Democrat. They called Akin a ‘‘principled conservative’’ — the same phrase Akin uses to describe himself at campaign events.
Santorum easily won Missouri’s nonbinding Republican presidential primary in February.
Akin had faced pressure to quit the campaign, some from other Republicans, after a TV interview aired Aug. 19 in which he said women’s bodies have a natural defense against pregnancy in cases of what he called ‘‘legitimate rape.’’
— ASSOCIATED PRESS
Patrick to co-host $250-per-person fund-raiser for Obama in New York
Governor Deval Patrick is co-hosting a fund-raiser for President Obama Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y., or “Baracklyn,” as the campaign and the president’s supporters have dubbed it for the occasion.
The Massachusetts Democrat will join White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker for a reception at Brooklyn Bowl.
Ticket prices range from $250 per person to $2,500 for those wishing to be designated “reception co-host.”
— GLEN JOHNSON
In video for PAC, Frank warns of setback for gays
Representative Barney Frank declares that Mitt Romney’s election would be a “serious setback” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans in a new video being released Thursday by a pair of liberal super PACs.
Frank, the first member of Congress to marry a same-sex partner, is the most prominent figure to tape an interview for the “Mitt Gets Worse” project, launched in July by the Courage Campaign Super PAC and American Bridge 21st Century.
“Mitt Gets Worse” is a collection of video testimonies from people critical of Romney’s record on LGBT issues, who argue the Republican presidential nominee would make life worse for sexual minorities, if he were to win the White House.
In the five-and-a-half-minute video, Frank speculates that Romney might reinstitute the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay members, lead passage of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriages and invalidating existing nuptials, and nominate socially conservative Supreme Court justices who would make the court “shut” to LGBT Americans.
“Who needs the risk?” said Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs. “The American people don’t want to spend time fighting these battles all over again.”
The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but Romney has said that he would not reverse President Obama’s repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Romney does support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and backed a state amendment in Massachusetts, when he was governor.
Despite Romney’s statement that he would not reinstitute “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Frank makes the case in the video that such a reversal is possible under a Romney administration because “he will get as bad as he has to be for political advantage.”
“I don’t really know that Mitt Romney dislikes lesbian and gay people,” Frank says. But, he charges, Romney is “consumed by ambition and willing to trash minority groups and appeal to prejudice against them for political advancement.”
— CALLUM BORCHERS
Romney plans fund-raiser in Hong Kong
Mitt Romney supporters are planning a fund-raiser on Thursday in Hong Kong, where they have already raised more than $385,000 for the Republican presidential nominee, according to the Associated Press.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request to confirm or deny the fund-raiser.
The reported event comes amid Romney’s effort to paint President Obama as weak in relations with China. Romney has vowed that if elected he will label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, something Obama has decided not to do during his current term, despite saying during the 2008 campaign that he “will use all diplomatic means at his disposal to achieve change in China’s manipulation of the value of its currency.”
The Obama campaign has called Romney’s tough talk on China hypocritical — a charge that could be bolstered by Romney’s fund-raising efforts there, though only US citizens and green card holders can donate to his campaign. In his time as chief executive of the private equity firm Bain Capital, and since, Romney has invested in Chinese companies.
— CALLUM BORCHERS