If Gingrich has put himself out of line with Republican policy more or less purposefully, Mitt Romney had no way of knowing that he would be aligned with President Obama when he formulated his Massachusetts health care plan back in 2006.
Congressional Republicans have almost unanimously supported repeal of the Obamacare bill jammed through Congress in March 2010 with a mandate, modeled on the one in Massachusetts, requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Twenty-seven state attorneys general or governors, almost all Republicans, are bringing lawsuits arguing that the Obamacare mandate violates the Constitution.
Romney delivered a health care speech last week in Michigan defending his Massachusetts plan and insisting that a state mandate is a different kind of duck from a federal mandate. But the response of the large mass of Republicans seems something like the old New Yorker cartoon in which the little girl confronted with a green vegetable says, "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."
Some Romney fans are saying he has recovered by raising $10.25 million in a single day this week. It's an impressive fundraising feat.
But what is money for in a presidential nomination race? It can help build state organizations, it can introduce an unknown candidate to voters, and it can present arguments for a candidate or against his opponents.
Some of those things, however, can be done much more cheaply these days through new media. And it doesn't seem likely that even millions of dollars of ads can make Republican primary voters and caucus-goers love the Massachusetts mandate.
Romney is running as a technocrat, someone who can analyze data and get results through good management. But Republicans this year are looking not for a technocrat but for someone to reverse the Obama Democrats' vast increase in the size and scope of government.
Romney, too, seems out of line with the party he seeks to lead.