WASHINGTON — Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney came under attack Sunday from rival Tim Pawlenty as the inspiration for US President Barack Obama’s “Obamneycare” health care program.
Romney has rejected the national program passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, arguing it was fundamentally different from the state program he created as governor of Massachusetts.
But Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor also running for the Republican presidential nomination, said there was no difference between the two.
“You don’t have to take my word for it. You can take President Obama’s word for it,” Pawlenty told Fox News Sunday. “President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare.”
Republicans, including Pawlenty, have challenged the constitutionality of the national program because it requires individuals to take the insurance.
Romney is leading the field of Republican presidential hopefuls with 25 percent support, according to polls last week that also showed him pulling ahead of Obama amid voter disenchantment over the economy.
Pawlenty has trailed in the Republican field, with five percent, behind Howard Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Bachman.
Presidential wannabes face off Monday evening in New Hampshire for their first debate in a season of state-by-state party elections to chose the Republican standard-bearer.
Obama has already announced his intention to seek reelection.