Giuliani takes a swipe at rivals on health care

He criticizes plans touted by Romney, Clinton.

By DAVID DeCAMP, Times Staff Writer
Published November 16, 2007

TAMPA - Seizing on a crucial deadline in a faraway place, Rudy Giuliani took swipes Thursday at his top presidential rivals -Republican and Democrat - by criticizing a mandatory health insurance program that Mitt Romney enacted while governor of Massachusetts.

"I think that is a very, very good indication of exactly what is wrong with 'Hillarycare,' and I think governor Romney has made that clear," Giuliani said after a lunch fundraiser at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Tampa. "Because Gov. Romney does not want to do for America what he did for Massachusetts."

In Massachusetts, Thursday was the deadline for residents to sign up with an insurer or possibly face penalties. The health plan, with the deadline, was approved with support from Romney to reduce the number of uninsured people.

But running for president, Romney has said he will allow states to decide how to tackle health insurance problems without mandates, though his campaign stressed he has not "run away" from the state program he put into effect.

Giuliani's comparison of the Massachusetts program to "Hillarycare" referred to the proposal by Sen. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Giuliani took the jab at Clinton while in Tampa in part because the two are the Florida front-runner's for their respective parties.

Giuliani's Sunshine State visit included events in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community near Ocala, and Naples on Thursday. Romney put out a new television ad in Florida this week, touting his experience - and criticizing Clinton, too.

Health care is an important issue in Florida, where a quarter of residents under age 65 are uninsured, according to a report last month by the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or 727 869-6232.