This morning, Mitt Romney wrapped up a speech to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire with the following passage about health care reform:
ROMNEY: I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep people healthy. It also means if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I'm going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.
And across the country, one could hear the faint sound of political reporters weeping for joy.
But let's be reasonable for a moment. It's quite clear that what Romney was trying to say was that consumers like firing service-providing companies, not people. (It doesn't make any sense, the other way. I can switch from Chase from Visa, but I don't have the ability to fire a Chase service representative.) It's a fitting gaffe for Romney, considering this is the candidate who claimed under different circumstances that companies and people are one and the same. It's also revealing, in a way that should alarm the Romney campaign, that their candidate likes to talk about consumer choice with terms like "fire" that feel too appropriate for a private equity executive whose job required him to lay off thousands of people.