TOLEDO, OH -- Mitt Romney on Wednesday pointed to the health care reform law he enacted as governor of Massachusetts as proof of his empathy and care for the American people.
In an interview with NBC News, Romney referenced an element of his record he almost never invokes on the campaign trail to answer a question about how he can better connect with Americans and prove he understands the lives and trials of middle class Americans.
"I think throughout this campaign as well, we talked about my record in Massachusetts, don't forget -- I got everybody in my state insured," Romney told NBC's Ron Allen in an interview before his rally here tonight. "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."
Romney's health care law in Massachusetts has long been a lightning rod issue for conservatives, who unfavorably compare it to President Barack Obama's own federal law and as a damning reflection on Romney's conservative bonafides.
The former Massachusetts governor also touched on another portion of his biography that he seldom discusses to connect with average Americans: his time as a Mormon pastor.
"I think people have the chance, who watched our Republican convention, to see the lives that I've had a chance to touch during my life, to understand that as I served as a pastor of a congregation with people of all different backgrounds and economic circumstances that I care very deeply about the American people, people of different socio-economic circumstances," Romney told Allen.
Taking the stage for the final rally of his two-day Ohio bus tour moments later, Romney also spoke about the importance of compassion in his speech and said his interactions with Americans from all lots in life have shown him the greatness of America -- and that everyone has challenges of their own.
"You look around, you see everybody, they look happy, and you think everybody else is doing just fine, and you're the only one with problems. But the truth is, most people that you see have some real challenges in their life of one kind or another. I understand that," Romney said. "And I've seen that inside the heart of the American people, despite our challenges, is a conviction that this nation is the greatest nation in the history of the earth."