Mitt Romney refused to criticize his Massachusetts health-care program tonight, saying he would prefer to lose the primary rather than renounce it.
“I’m standing by what I did in Massachusetts,” Romney said on Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Bret Baier. “I’m not trying to dust it aside. I’m absolutely firm that it was the right thing for our state. I’ll defend that and I understand it has political implications. And if it keeps me from winning a primary, so be it. But that happens to be the truth.”
“It’s by far, the biggest challenge I have in the primary race,” Romney admitted, before going on to criticize his rivals. “And if I were willing to say anything to get elected, wouldn’t I just say, ‘oh, it was a mistake,’because I’ve watched other people on the stage when they talk about their cap-and-trade policies, they say, ‘oh, that was a mistake.’ When someone says, ‘oh, I did this ad on global warming,’ that was a mistake. So they’ve just brushed it aside.”
Romney said he “absolutely” still supports the individual health-care mandate in Massachusetts, but reiterated he does not support the mandate at the federal level.
Asked about the Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich, Romney called Gingrich a “good man,” but added that the two had “different backgrounds.”
“He spent his last 30 or 40 years in Washington,” Romney said. “I spent my career in the private sector. I think that’s what the country needs right now.”
In a response to a question about Gingrich’s immigration views, Romney replied, “I can’t tell you what Speaker Gingrich is saying. If he’s going to do what I believe he said he was going to do for those people who would be allowed to stay permanently and become citizens, that would be providing for them a form of amnesty. I can tell you what, I’ll let him describe his view.”
Gingrich has said that he would allow some who had been here a significant period of time to be eligible for legal status, but has stressed he is not suggesting they be eligible for citizenship.
UPDATE: Video of the interview: