J. Scott Applewhite/AP
President Obama signs the national health care law at the White House on March 23, 2010.
President Obama signs the national health care law at the White House on March 23, 2010. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
As the Supreme Court debates the constitutionality of his signature domestic policy achievement next week, President Obama will be keeping his distance from the events in Washington.
A coincidence of timing puts the president in South Korea for a global nuclear security summit on Monday and Tuesday, as the Supreme Court holds the first two of its three days of historic oral arguments on the new national health care law.
Of course, Obama's whereabouts have no bearing on what's happening with the independent judicial branch. But presidential politics very likely won't be too far from discussions outside the Supreme Court.
One Republican candidate is planning to make it his focus next week. (In another coincidence of timing, the oral arguments fall on the rare week without a GOP primary or caucus.)
Then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Timothy Murphy after signing a landmark state health care law on April 12, 2006, in Boston. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., stands at center.
Then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Timothy Murphy after signing a landmark state health care law on April 12, 2006, in Boston. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., stands at center. Elise Amendola/AP
"Starting today — through the oral arguments before the Supreme Court — Rick Santorum and his campaign will expose the dangerous actions of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's role in laying the foundation for this infringement on individual freedom," Santorum's campaign said in a statement Thursday.
Santorum promised to use Friday's second anniversary of the national law — and then coverage of the six hours of Supreme Court oral arguments spread out over three days next week — to draw parallels between the national health care law and the 2006 Massachusetts law championed by Romney, when he governed the state.
Obama, in a radio interview that aired Thursday, also took a jab at Romney on the issue.
"We designed a program that actually previously had support of Republicans, including the person who may end up being the Republican standard-bearer and is now pretending like he came up with something different," Obama said, speaking on American Public Media's Marketplace.
Obama has said the national law was modeled at least in part on what Romney did in Massachusetts. Romney has said his law found state solutions to a state problem, has denounced the individual mandate when used as part of federal legislation, and has pledged to try to repeal the national health care law if he becomes president.
But comparisons of "Obamacare" and "Romneycare" are sure to come up next week. Especially when Santorum steps before a microphone.