Oh my: Pawlenty attacks "ObamneyCare"

Via the Corner, I can’t shake the strange feeling that (a) we might hear him use this coinage again on the trail a time or two, starting tomorrow night in New Hampshire, and (b) the expected gang-up on Romney at the CNN debate is going to be way fiercer — and more entertaining — than anyone expected.

Just one question: Will it work?

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning, three-quarters of Republicans and GOP leaning independent voters say they want a party nominee who can defeat President Barack Obama in 2012, even if that person doesn’t agree with them on every issue. That’s up seven percentage points from January…

The poll takes a closer look at how Republicans perceive the five best-known candidates or potential candidates for the nomination. Two-thirds say that Romney can beat the president in the general election; a majority also say that about Giuliani, but most Republicans think that Obama would beat Palin, Gingrich or Paul.

Who is qualified to be president? According to the survey, three-quarters say that Giuliani and Romney are qualified; six in 10 say the same about Palin, but she still lags well behind on that score.

Palin’s got the highest favorable rating in the field, and fully eight in 10 Republicans think she agrees with them on the issues that matter most (versus just 64 percent who say the same of Romney). Eight in 10 also say she represents the values of Republicans like themselves. So there’s your not-at-all surprising narrative frame for a potential Romney/Palin showdown, or maybe even a potential Romney/Perry showdown: How much ObamneyCare-type heresy will primary voters tolerate from Mitt before they decide that they can’t pull that lever, even if he has an electability advantage in the general that they covet?

Two clips for you here, one of Pawlenty this morning and the other of Pawlenty from five years ago where he heaps praise on Romney for his health-care initiative. Note the part in the latter where he says requiring insurance is a “worthy goal and one that we’re intrigued by and, I think, at least open to,” and also the bit near the end where he acknowledges that “I think a mandate by itself is potentially helpful.” If you missed this clip the first time I posted it, watch it now, because Romney’s surely preparing to throw it back in his face tomorrow night. Exit question: When T-Paw told Chris Wallace this morning, vis-a-vis the more confrontational candidates in the field, that “I’m not running for comedian- in-chief, or entertainer-in-chief,” who did he mean? Hmmmm.