Ruling Offers Opening to Romney; Could Rally Support to Help Him Fulfill Pledge to Repeal Health Law

Article excerpt

Byline: Ralph Z. Hallow, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Obama's Supreme Court win on health care Thursday could prove short-lived if Mitt Romney plays it right, analysts said, since the ruling could open the way for the Republican challenger to muster a new level of enthusiasm for his candidacy that he hasn't been able to achieve so far.

Polls show that about 60 percent or more of voters dislike some or all of Mr. Obama's law, and despite his and his party's efforts to play up the law's benefits, the overhaul has actually lost public support since the time it was passed in 2010.

Now that the legal fight appears settled, Mr. Romney has an opening to harness that opposition in support of his candidacy, activists with the tea party movement said.

Mr. Romney can benefit from the defeat the court handed him by renewing and pushing his promise to do everything in his power to repeal Obamacare once he becomes president, said Ralph King, a tea party leader in Ohio, a must-win swing state in November.

Despite a bad economy and Mr. Romney's promise to repeal the health care law if elected, polls say the former Massachusetts governor trails Mr. Obama in Ohio and a number of other critical swing states.

The court loss could rally core Republican and tea party voters in those states to Mr. Romney's cause, unifying the GOP after a sometimes divisive primary battle.

The tea party in my state - and I think everywhere - is going to be even more energized and focused on defeating Obama and Obamacare as a result of this decision, said Jason Hoyt, an activist with the Central Florida Tea Party.

The challenge for Mr. Romney will be to figure out a policy beyond the repeal.

Mr. Hoyt, for example, is not enthralled with the candidate's Repeal and Replace slogan, because he says the replace part suggests more government intrusion that goes beyond the federal government's constitutional powers.

Pollster John Zogby also takes a dim view of its appeal as a slogan to help Republicans win, saying many voters don't want to go through another bitter and prolonged battle over health care. He said former President Clinton's amend, don't end strategy on welfare reform in the mid-1990s was a more attractive message for the political climate. …