By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of inflicting a "government takeover of health care" on Americans, even though Obama's law is closely modeled on the plan Romney achieved in Massachusetts.
Romney's speech to news leaders, like Obama's the day before, was a roll out of the head-to-head rhetoric that will increasingly define the campaign until November. Each aggressively criticized the other side and, in doing so, warped some realities.
Obama ignored divisiveness in Democratic ranks and his own political drifts when he accused Republicans of disavowing anti-pollution legislation and health care changes they once supported. Romney again portrayed Obama as a leader who apologizes for America even though the president has no history of saying "sorry" on behalf of the nation.
A look at some of their statements and how they compare with the facts:
ROMNEY: "The president's attention, it was elsewhere, like a government takeover of health care and apologizing for America abroad."
THE FACTS: Obama's law keeps the private insurance industry at the heart of the health care system and avoids a single-payer government system like Canada's. It seeks to achieve universal coverage by requiring insurers to accept people regardless of medical history, subsidizing costs for many in the middle class as well as the poor, establishing new markets for those who don't get insurance at work and requiring most Americans to obtain coverage, with penalties if they don't.
That's precisely what Romney did, first, as Massachusetts governor.
Romney argues that states have the right to establish an individual insurance mandate and Washington doesn't — a question the Supreme Court is deciding. But whether the federal law is found constitutional or not, it does not add up to a government takeover.
Even when fully implemented, if the court allows that, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 58 percent of working-age Americans and their families will be covered through employer plans — about the same as now.
In his world travels, Obama has said at times that the U.S. acted "contrary to our traditions and ideals" in its treatment of terrorist suspects, that "America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy," that the U.S. "certainly shares blame" for international economic turmoil and has sometimes shown arrogance toward allies.
Obama's statements that America is not beyond reproach in its history usually come balanced with praise, and he is hardly alone among presidents in acknowledging the nation's past imperfections.
But these were not apologies, formal or informal.
OBAMA: "There is a reason why there's a little bit of confusion in the Republican primary about health care and the individual mandate, since it originated as a conservative idea to preserve the private marketplace in health care while still assuring that everybody got coverage, in contrast to a single-payer plan. Now suddenly this is some socialist overreach."
THE FACTS: True, but not the whole story.
Many Republicans into the 1990s, and in some cases beyond, supported the idea of requiring people to have health insurance, even if they disagreed with Democrats on how universal coverage should work. Now that idea is decidedly purged from the GOP mainstream.
But until he became president, Obama, too, thought a mandate was a bad idea. In the 2008 campaign, it was his "core belief" that everyone would get health insurance, without the coercion of a mandate, if only high-quality coverage were affordable.
He relentlessly criticized his primary opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton in debates, speeches, ads and mailers for proposing a mandate, taking it so far that she waved one of his mailers in the air and barked, "Shame on you, Barack Obama," slamming "your tactics and your behavior in this campaign."
ROMNEY: "The administration pledged that their stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. It has been above 8 percent every month since."
THE FACTS: Obama never said that he would hold unemployment below 8 percent if Congress adopted his stimulus package. The 8 percent figure cited by Romney, and many other Republicans, comes from a transition staff-written projection written by economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein that was issued weeks before Obama was sworn in and long before there even was a stimulus plan before Congress.