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Muddling the message on health care (again)

<p>Mitt Romney was in Miami last night for a couple of events, including an interview on Univision, where a viewer asked about the Affordable Care Act.

Mitt Romney was in Miami last night for a couple of events, including an interview on Univision, where a viewer asked about the Affordable Care Act. As Igor Volsky noted, the Republican's response was a break from his usual rhetoric.

For those who can't watch clips online, Romney vowed, "I would repeal all of Obamacare and replace it with the kinds of reforms we really need." He added, "And I have experience in health care reform. Now and then the president says I'm the grandfather of Obamacare. I don't think he meant that as a compliment, but I'll take it. This was during my primary we thought it might not be helpful."

From there, Romney went on to talk about the success of his state-based reform law, which is effectively the same thing as President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

There's a few interesting angles here, but let's start with the most politically salient: Romney's now comfortable with having inspired "Obamacare," the law he hates and intends to destroy? When did that happen? Were conservatives aware of this?

Notice that remarkable line Romney mentioned in passing: during the primary, the Romney campaign "thought it might not be helpful" if Republicans realized his health care policy inspired Obama's policy. But the implication is that now that the primaries are over, and GOP voters were fooled, Romney doesn't mind acknowledging at least part of reality.

Is the Republican base on board with this? If recent history is any guide, a Romney aide will be along any minute to say the candidate doesn't believe what he said, but at least for now, this seems like a rather striking development.

But wait, there's more.

Also note that Romney vowed to destroy the reform law and "replace it with" something new. Of course, that leads to the obvious question of what, exactly, the replacement policy would be, and how many families would lose out once the Republican kills the provisions that are already expanding coverage, lowering costs, and rescuing Americans from crushing bills.

But Romney won't provide any details on what he'd "replace it with." That's apparently a secret -- vote for him first, then he'll tell Americans what he'll do with health care system.

For that matter, even Romney's boasts about Romneycare in Massachusetts struck an odd note. He's right that the law has worked well and is quite popular with his former constituents, but if Romney's proud of its success, why is he so eager to eliminate a comparable law that's already in place at the national level?

For context, let's also not forget that just two weeks ago, Romney's health care message was also a mess, giving contradictory answers on whether he'd repeal the entire law, and making incoherent remarks about protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

For a subject that was once Romney's signature issue, it often seems as if the presidential hopeful has no idea what he's talking about.