In an interview on the eve of the first major Republican primary debate in June, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty coined a clever and biting neologism to describe the similarities between Democrats' national health care overhaul and the reforms enacted by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts: "ObamneyCare." But the next day, presented with the opportunity to expand on the charge while sharing the dais with his Republican rival, Pawlenty demurred. "President Obama is the person who I quoted in saying he looked to Massachusetts for designing his program," he said, avoiding any direct criticism of Romney. "He's the one who said it's a blueprint and that he merged the two programs." The moment reinforced perceptions that the Minnesotan was too mild-mannered for the raucous presidential race, and Pawlenty continued to struggle to stand out before folding his campaign in August and endorsing Romney a month later.
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