Mitt Romney's preexisting condition

The former governor has launched a two-pronged strategy that features a robust argument about how his state plan is different than the Washington Democrats’ approach, accompanied by an aggressive attack against the new law. The hope: that explanation and high-profile opposition is the only way to redefine his record on the issue—or at least mitigate the attacks that have already begun to emerge from some of his potential 2012 primary rivals…

But much like Clinton was seemingly boxed in between her party’s dovish base and a more hawkish general electorate on the war, Democrats believe Romney is stuck in a dangerous position: if he panders to his party base by distancing himself from the Massachusetts plan, he risks forfeiting a valuable general election asset that would underline his can-do message.

“The more popular the [Obama] bill is, the more of a whipsaw he faces,” said Neera Tanden, Clinton’s top policy aide and, until recently, a senior official at HHS. “He’s in a difficult position because he chose to govern and solve a problem.”

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