BARTLETT, N.H. —
Romney and his aides insisted they were old signs.
Among Romney's biggest challenges: explaining to GOP primary voters why he signed a law that became the foundation for Obama's national overhaul. Passed by Congress last year, Obama's health care law has enraged conservatives who view it as a costly government expansion and intrusion into their lives because it mandates insurance for most Americans.
Romney all but ignored the topic in his last major public appearance last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
But, since then, the similarities with Romney's 2006 law in Massachusetts have increasingly been dogging him.
Obama praised the efforts in Massachusetts during a meeting with governors at the White House, saying: "I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he's proud of what he accomplished on health care by giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He's right."
Also, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an Obama friend, said Romney deserves a lot of credit on health care. "One of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which has been a model for national health care reform," he said.
The praise from Democrats provides fodder for Romney's Republican primary opponents; some are already heaping on the criticism.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says in his new book: "If our goal in health care reform is better care at lower cost, then we should take a lesson from RomneyCare, which shows that socialized medicine does not work." It was a play on the word that conservative critics use to describe the national law: Obamacare.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is likely to run for president against Romney, took a shot at Romney when he testified before a House committee reviewing Obama's health care overhaul. He lumped Romney in with a late liberal icon and an Obama friend in saying: "Senator (Edward M.) Kennedy and Governor Romney and then Governor Patrick, if that's what Massachusetts wants, we're happy for them. We don't want that. That's not good for us."