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Romney backs Romneycare, and conservatives are fine with it

Earlier this month, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, committed the crime of pointing out that if a worker fired from a Bain-owned steel plant and featured in a pro-Obama ad had lived in Massachusetts, he’d have had health insurance.

Of course, under pressure from the right, Romney has disowned his Massachusetts health-care law, often seen as a model for Obamacare. And the conservative backlash to Saul’s comments was immediate and unforgiving. Ann Coulter demanded that she be fired. Michelle Malkin called her “not ready for prime time.” Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner tweeted that the remarks had given the Obama campaign a “huge opening.” RedState’s Erick Erickson, also on Twitter, called it “the moment Mitt Romney lost the election.” And Erickson’s RedState colleague Dan McLaughlin tweeted that “Romney needs to know not to go there,” approvingly comparing the conservative response to “how you housebreak your dog.”

But the housebreaking doesn’t appear to have been successful. And, even more interesting, the dog-trainers no longer seem to care.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Romney himself went much further than Saul had in praising his healthcare law. Check out the following exchange with host Chris Wallace:

Romney: “With regards to women’s health care, I’m the guy that was able to get health care for all the women and men in my state. There’s talking about it at the federal level, we actually did something. And we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes.

Wallace: So you’re saying, look at Romneycare?”

Romney: Absolutely. I’m very proud of what we did. And the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state.

So conservatives went apoplectic again, right? Wrong. Over twenty-four hours after the Fox interview aired, none of those mentioned above who were so outraged about Saul’s comments appear to have uttered a peep. And none of Malkin, Erickson, and McLaughlin responded to Lean Forward’s requests for comment.

So why aren’t conservatives up in arms over Mitt’s re-endorsement of Romneycare? Here's a theory: Could it be that this time, they’ve been asked to cut Romney some slack? That the Romney campaign has reassured them that, although he needs to use Romneycare to soften his image with women and swing voters, he doesn’t really mean it, so they should lay off the criticism?

There's no proof of that. But it’s hard to come up with many better explanations for the stark contrast in the responses in each case.