Has Gruber-gate scuttled Mitt, 2016?

“It’s terrifying that the guy in his mom’s basement is finding his stuff, and nobody else is.”

That’s what Rich Weinstein, the previously anonymous investment advisor who scooped the universe by uncovering Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s unrivaled contempt for the American public, told Bloomberg when he was asked how it was possible for the media to overlook these bombshell comments.

But while it seems clear that the mainstream press had no interest in investigating Gruber, it is harder to believe that complex political operations were equally incurious about what this formerly vaunted health care policy wonk had to say about the law he helped craft.

Surely, Barack Obama’s political operatives were aware that Gruber spent much of his time on the speaking circuit denigrating the American people, and they must have been thrilled the press allowed them to dodge that bullet. By that same token, it’s more than likely that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s team of researchers were also keenly aware of the ticking time bomb that Gruber represented.

Analysts have long speculated that Romney probably chose not to hammer the issue of the Affordable Care Act during his ill-fated run for the White House because the health care reform law he signed as the Bay State’s governor was used as a model for Obamacare. In fact, Gruber himself ripped into Romney for his hypocrisy on that issue, as Avik Roy chronicled in 2011:

Gruber also had some unkind words for his former pupil, Mitt Romney. There’s “zero difference” between Romneycare and Obamacare, he told Pillifant. “This is, to my mind, the most blatantly obvious case of politics trumping policy I’ve ever seen in my life. Because this is an idea, that four or five years ago, Republicans were touting. A guy from the Heritage Foundation spoke at the bill signing in Massachusetts about how good this bill was.”

But, what about when Romney says his law is different from Obamacare? “The problem is there is no way to say that, because they’re the same f***ing bill. He just can’t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it’s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he’s just lying. The only big difference is he didn’t have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes.”

“I was a consultant to his administration,” Gruber said of Romney in a 2011 interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. “I helped him in the early stages of shaping the bill. I then helped the legislature write the bill, and I was appointed by Governor Romney to the Connector board, the board that actually implemented the law in Massachusetts, starting in 2006.”

Romney, who occupied a near permanent seat on the Sunday morning talk programs in the last several weeks, has not been asked to confirm or deny his association with the presently toxic Gruber. Perhaps that is because there is not much for him to deny; Gruber’s work in crafting the Massachusetts health care reform law, much like Obamacare, is well-documented.

As Allahpundit has related extensively, the former governor and GOP presidential nominee has shown that he is carefully stewarding his status as party elder, and was perhaps even laying the groundwork for a third presidential bid.

“In the days after the election, a group of Romney supporters began circulating a memo that compared the success of his midterm endorsements with those made by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination,” The Washington Post reported last week.

“WaPo also reports that the man himself made more than 80(!) phone calls on election night to Republican winners around the country to congratulate them on their victories,” Allahpundit observed. “Why would a man who’d campaigned tirelessly around the country for Republican candidates choose to call them instead of waiting for them to call him to say thanks?”

Sadly, the nascent 2016 Romney campaign may have been wrecked before it even got off the ground.

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