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GOP Downplays Mitt Romney Remarks

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Congressional Republican leaders are downplaying GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's comments that he would preserve some parts of Democrats' health care reforms, but the remarks are causing some conservatives to question whether the former Massachusetts governor is committed to fully repealing the law.

As governor, Romney signed and trumpeted health care legislation on which Democrats modeled their own proposal.

Romney said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that he is interested in repealing President Barack Obama's health care law and replacing it with his own plan, but he added that there were elements he would keep.

On Monday, the House and Senate Republican whips sought to explain that there is no daylight between Romney's stance and that of the Congressional GOP. The House has voted twice to fully repeal the law and more than 30 times overall to repeal all or part of it. The Senate has voted once on full repeal, which fell short.

"The issue of pre-existing [conditions] and your children staying on [parents' insurance], those have been in Republican plans," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday. "I think it's very clear that we have said we need health reform, but we think first we have to repeal Obamacare."

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Romney's words were merely an amplification of the GOP's position of repealing the health care law and replacing it with Republican solutions that would, in some cases, accomplish some of the same goals.

"What he's talking about are a couple of the things we'd replace," Kyl said Monday off the Senate floor. "What he is talking about is exactly the view that we've had: Let's repeal Obamacare, let's replace it with policies, some of which may solve some of the same problems, but in a potentially different way."

"What Romney is saying is that there are market-based solutions to these problems as opposed to the mandated, government, top-down [policies in] Obamacare," Kyl continued.

According to the campaign, Romney's comments were in line with his previous positions.

The plan would "ensure that those with pre-existing conditions would still have access to the care they need," a Romney campaign aide said, adding that the plan will expand access to coverage by containing costs.

"Well, I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform," Romney said Sunday. "Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like."

But the comments received an at-best tepid reception elsewhere on Capitol Hill. An aide to a conservative House Member said the comments are "deeply disturbing" and have "ricocheted across conservative circles."  

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