Tim Pawlenty is showing that he can take on Mitt Romney on health care and the individual mandate -- in venues where Romney is not standing in front of him.
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Pawlenty was widely criticized for a key moment at Monday night's GOP debate, when he refused to repeat his "Obamneycare" attack from a day earlier to Mitt Romney's face. But then on Thursday, Pawlenty decided to take another bite at the apple, posting this on Twitter: "On seizing debate opportunity re: healthcare: Me 0, Mitt 1. On doing healthcare reform the right way as governor: Me 1, Mitt 0."
Then Thursday night, he appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity, and said it bluntly: He should have taken on Romney at the debate.
"Well, I think in response to that direct question, I should have been much more clear during the debate, Sean," said Pawlenty. "I don't think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of Obamacare, and then continues to defend it. And that was the question, I should have answered it directly. Instead, I stayed focused on Obama, but the question really related to the contrast with Governor Romney. And I should have been more clear, I should have made the point that he was involved in developing it -- he really laid the ground work for Obamacare, and continues to this day to defend it. And I think that's a legitimate point in response to the question that I was asked, and I should have been more clear."