Mitt Romney hears some kind words for the way he handled health care in Massachusetts from . . . Jim DeMint? (HT: Jen Rubin.)
“One of the reasons I endorsed Romney [in 2008] is his attempts to make private health insurance available at affordable prices,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), a GOP kingmaker.
DeMint blames Democrats in the Massachusetts State Legislature for adding many of the features to Romney’s plan that many on the right decry.
“It just depends on how he plays it. For me, I think he started with some good ideas that were essentially hijacked by the Democrat Legislature,” DeMint said.
A short while ago, I Tweeted, “Jim DeMint says nice things about Romney. http://wapo.st/fJpasZ “Of all the RINO sleeper agents, I never figured you, DeMint.”
It was enough to get a source close to DeMint to write in:
DeMint was probably trying to be nice about the Governor’s intentions years ago. But I can tell you this: he wouldn’t even consider endorsing Romney again unless he admitted what’s obvious to everyone, that his Massachusetts health care plan was a colossal mistake.
Lest anyone read into my Tweet too much, I think highly of DeMint and think highly of Romney and I think “RINO” is an increasingly elastic and unhelpful term in debating modern GOP politics. In fact, “RINO” is almost as worn-out an accusation as “racist.” For almost every presidential candidate or major GOP figure, you can find a grassroots conservative blogger or media figure calling him or her a RINO:
Mitt Romney? RINO.
Tim Pawlenty? RINO.
Mike Huckabee? RINO.
Mitch Daniels? RINO.
Haley Barbour? RINO.
Jon Huntsman? RINO.
Newt Gingrich? RINO.
Chris Christie? RINO.
Michele Bachmann? RINO. Really.
Ron Paul? RINO.
Sarah Palin? On probation for her endorsement of Carly Fiorina.
Okay. I have yet to find anyone calling Herman Cain a RINO. And while Rick Santorum caught some flak for an off-the-cuff comment about Sarah Palin and balancing family and a campaign, I have yet to see someone labeling him “RINO.”
RINOhood, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
UPDATE: Spoke too soon on Santorum!