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Romney: If health reform is stricken, Obama's first term 'wasted'

Speaking in Virginia, Mitt Romney offered his first public response the Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law saying the Court had to weigh in because President Obama "failed to lead."


SALEM, VA -- Mitt Romney said Tuesday that President Obama will have "wasted" much of his first term if the Supreme Court decides Thursday that the president's health reform law is unconstitutional.

Amid a flurry of politically important rulings by the high court this week -- including yesterday's immigration decision -- Romney positioned himself in anticipation of Thursday's scheduled verdict on "ObamaCare."

"If Obamacare is not deemed constitutional, then the first three and a half years of this president's term will have been wasted on something that has not helped the American people," Romney told a crowd of some 1,500 supporters here today. "If it is deemed to stand, then I'll tell you one thing. Then we'll have to have a president, and I'm that one, that's gonna get rid of Obamacare. We're gonna stop it on day one."

Romney has long been forced to wrestle with conservative skeptics, who see Romney's health care reform law in Massachusetts -- including the requirement that individuals to purchase health insurance or face a penalty -- as a model for the president's reform. Romney's pledge to repeal the national law is a daily part of his stump speech, but takes on added meaning as the clock ticks down toward Thursday, the final day on which the court has scheduled the release of opinions.

If the entire law (or just the individual mandate) is struck down, Romney's comments today suggest he will use the ruling to batter the president for wasting his time and political capital on a law that was ultimately wiped out, rather than focusing on the economy.

Romney also used his rally here today to respond for the first time publicly to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's stiff immigration law, elements of which Romney praised during the primary campaign.

The former Massachusetts governor described the court's involvement in the Arizona case as an example of a presidential failure in leadership, saying that had the president and a Democratic congress just passed immigration reform, immigration issues would not be the "muddle" they are now.

"The Supreme Court had to step in because states had to step in," Romney said. "States looking to find a way to solve the problems he didn't address, tried to address it in their own ways, and now the Supreme Court's looked at it, and what we're left with is a bit of a muddle, but what we know is the president failed to lead."

Romney also addressed the immigration case at a private fundraiser yesterday, in which he pledged to pass his own immigration reform plan -- which revolves around simplifying legal immigration and placing strict limits in place to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants -- within one year of taking office.

In neither appearance did he clearly state whether or not he agreed with the Supreme Court's ruling, focusing instead on each state's right to address immigration issues if the federal government fails to do so.

Today's rally took place in the Roanoke media market, which NBC's First Read reported this morning is the second most active media market for political advertising in the country this week with Romney and his GOP allies narrowly outspending Obama and Democrats. With that focus in mind, the presumptive GOP nominee said today that he would take back the Old Dominion this election, after the once-reliably Republican state flipped into the Democratic column in 2008.

"We're going to win in Virginia," Romney said as he wrapped up his remarks. "We're going to win in November."