The Ticket

How Mitt Romney will respond to the Supreme Court’s health care ruling

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Romney in Sterling, Virginia, on Wednesday (Charles Dharapak/AP)

No matter how the Supreme Court rules on President Obama's health care law on Thursday, Mitt Romney already has a response to the court's decision: Obamacare was a "bad policy" that diverted the president's attention away from the more important issue of getting the nation's unemployed back to work.

Speaking to several hundred supporters at a rally in Northern Virginia on Wednesday, Romney argued Obama spent more time focused on passing health care reform than trying to improve the economy. And that, Romney insisted, was simply a "moral failure" on Obama's part—more evidence, he said, that Obama doesn't deserve another four years in office.

"The president is in a tight spot because he hasn't done what he said he'd do. He said he would turn the economy around. He said that was his No. 1 priority," Romney declared."His policies were not focused on creating jobs. They were focused on implementing his liberal agenda. There's nothing wrong with people having an agenda, but when the country's in crisis, you have a moral responsibility to focus on helping people come out of that crisis. So it's not just bad policy, it was a moral failure to put forth a piece of legislation that wouldn't help Americans get back to work and to focus the energy of the White House on Obamacare."

While Romney is expected to speak in Washington shortly after the Supreme Court renders its decision, the GOP nominee likely won't divert much from this response, which he's previewed on the stump in recent days. It's a talking point that sticks with the larger message of Romney's campaign, which has focused relentlessly on Obama's handling of the economy—even as other issues, including immigration and foreign affairs, have threatened to take center stage.

For months, Romney has campaigned against Obama's health care law in rallies, promising to repeal it on "day one" of his potential presidency. In recent weeks, he's taken that message a step further, arguing that Obama's law has hindered job creation among businesses concerned about the ultimate cost of the law to their bottom lines.

His language on Obama's law has long been a guaranteed applause line for Romney, often eliciting wild cheers and standing ovations from his Republican supporters who strongly oppose the president's health care reforms.

Heading into Thursday's decision, Romney campaign officials have dismissed concerns among some Republicans that the Supreme Court, in possibly rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act, could take away a major motivating force for conservative voters this fall. "Our side is going to be fired up no matter what," one Romney campaign official, who declined to be named, told Yahoo News.

The biggest impact, Romney aides argue, could be on the other side of the ticket. They see a potential rollback of the individual mandate by the court as offering Obama a major opening to court 2008 supporters who have been less enthusiastic about his 2012 bid.

That's why Romney has moved in recent days to recast his argument about Obamacare as less about the specifics of the law—which was modeled in part after health care legislation Romney supported as governor of Massachusetts—and more about whether Obama should have focused on jobs instead. It's a simple argument, Romney aides say, that fits no matter what the court decides on Thursday. It also allows the GOP nominee to maintain what has been a key talking point for his campaign.

Speaking in Virginia on Wednesday, Romney laid out a few scenarios about what the court might do and how it might impact his own efforts in the White House, if elected. He argued that no matter what happens Thursday, it's up to the next president to come up with a better health care solution--though he has not offered specifics of what he would do in the White House beyond saying he'd offer a plan that is cheaper.

"We'll all be waiting to see how the court will decide. One thing we already know... it's bad policy that's got to go," Romney said. "And so if the court upholds it, if they say, 'Look, it passes the Constitution,' it still is bad policy, and that'll mean if I'm elected, I'm going to repeal it and replace it. If on the other hand the court strikes it down, they'll be doing some of my work for me."

Speaking on the eve of the court decision, Romney offered no hints of anxiousness about how the Supreme Court ruling might affect his campaign. But he suggested his Democratic rival wasn't so comfortable about the impending ruling.

"My guess is that they are not sleeping well at the White House tonight," Romney said.

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