Friday, August 03, 2007

If he can't face the waitress at the Red Arrow diner...

How can he deal with al Qaeda?

"How 'Bout the USA?" Romney Is Asked In Emotional Exchange on Health Care | The Trail |
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Mitt Romney was about a minute into an answer about his commitment to fighting the global spread of AIDS and health care diplomacy on Wednesday when a waitress behind the counter yelled out a question.

"What about our nation? How 'bout the USA? C'mon!" yelled Michele Griffin, a 12-year veteran behind the counter at one of Manchester's most famous eating establishments.

She turned to walk away, but the former Masschusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate called her back, sparking an emotional and confrontational 10-minute exchange about health care and the needs of the working class. The already hot diner got even hotter fast.

The exchange took place at the Red Arrow, one of two diners the Washington Post will be visiting repeatedly during the next six months.

One of the things I'm proud of doing in my state is putting on track a plan that gets everybody health insurance," Romney began, seeing an opening for his standard stump speech about his efforts as governor of Massachusetts.

But Griffin was in no mood for platitudes, and interrupted.

"After we pay our huge deductibles for our insurance and our cost for our prescriptions, there's nothing left," she said.

"Are you a Massachusetts resident?" Romney asked.

"No I'm a New Hampshire resident," Griffen said, and then added, before Romney could jump in, that "we pay over $1,000 a month for our insurance. Then we have co pays. Every time you go to the doctor, it's $50 a visit. Then you have co-pays for our prescriptions. Can you tell me what your co pay is?"

"Yes," Romney said. "$10 for each prescription."

"That's very nice isn't it?" Griffin answered dryly.

"Yes. What are yours? Romney asked.

"Mine are like $30-$50. I have three sick children."

A moment later, Romney tried to get back to Massachusetts and his stump speech. "One of the things I thing is important to do--as you've heard me do as governor across the border--is to find a way to get health insurance for all our citizens..."

Griffin interrupted again.

"Yeah, but how are all your citizens..."

"You know," Romney quipped, "if you'd like me to answer the question I will."

"Well," Griffin said, "but how much are your citizens paying for deductibles? Same as you?"

"Well, how much?" Romney stumbled for a moment, then got his footing as he used the question to launch into an explanation of the need for choice in health care. "Everyone has their own plan. Because in my state there is private insurance and we get to choose the policy we'd like."
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