But Romney also faces some challenges in capitalizing on the conservative fervor against the health care law. Romney passed – and since championed – a law in Massachusetts that included an individual mandate, just as the federal law did.
As Republicans now criticize the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that there is a tax included in the health care law – levied on those who don’t obtain health insurance – Romney may have to call the similar “fee” that he implemented in Massachusetts a “tax.”
But several GOP strategists said Monday that the ruling could nevertheless redound to Mitt Romney's benefit in the presidential race.
The ruling, they said, provides Romney a critical opportunity to highlight the Obama administration's “poor handling” of illegal immigration. Analysts suggested Arizona's ongoing struggle to enforce its own immigration law could help feed the narrative that the federal government needs to step in with a better approach — an approach Romney, who recently outlined his immigration plan, claims to be offering.
The Supreme Court preserved the most controversial provision of the Arizona law, which instructs police offers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or detain. The overall ruling was seen as a victory for the Obama administration, which argued that immigration was a federal rather than state responsibility.
Romney has avoided sharing his opinions on the specific provisions of the law, SB 1070. But he has been endorsed by and receives campaign advice from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped author the Arizona immigration law.
"I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less," Romney told supporters at a private fundraiser in Scottsdale, hours after the justices had ruled against several provisions of the controversial law while upholding the key "show your papers" provision.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee lamented that under the ruling, states "have less authority, less latitude to enforce immigration laws."
Perhaps it was part of Mitt Romney’s coping strategy, or perhaps the beginning of his lengthy retort to an unfavorable decision. Within 30 minutes of the Supreme Court ruling to uphold much of President Obama’s health-care law, the Romney campaign announced it had raised more than $100,000. Some 45 minutes after that, the total had tripled. By early afternoon, it had surpassed $1 million.
After that, Mr. Romney sought to step up his attack on Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, while softening his tone on some issues like immigration. The Supreme Court’s decision in June to uphold Mr. Obama’s health care law gave the president a victory, but also gave Mr. Romney a chance to fire up the Republican base by vowing to repeal it.
Romney's promise to repeal the health care law has become a pillar in an agenda that so far offers voters few other specifics. He released a new television ad campaign late last week stressing that the elimination of the health care law will be the top priority in his administration's first 100 days.
Should the court strike down the law, however, attention would turn quickly to what he would do to help 50 million uninsured people get coverage and bring down the nation's spiraling health care costs.
Only about one-third of Americans support the law, according to a recent AP-GfK poll, but 77 percent want the president and Congress to start working on a new health care bill if the Supreme Court rules the 2010 overhaul unconstitutional.
Heading into Thursday's decision, Romney campaign officials have dismissed concerns among some Republicans that the Supreme Court, in possibly rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act, could take away a major motivating force for conservative voters this fall. "Our side is going to be fired up no matter what," one Romney campaign official, who declined to be named, told Yahoo News.
So here is Romney's reaction to the ruling: “Today's decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President.
"I believe that each state has the duty—and the right—to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But four years later, we are still waiting.”
“As you might imagine I disagree with the Supreme Court decision, and I agree with the dissent,” the presumptive GOP presidential candidate said. “Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today.”
Signaling a slight shift in the way he talks about the law, Romney called for “replacing” the law instead of just repealing it.
“If we want to replace Obamacare, we have to replace Obama,” he said.