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Posted on Wed, May 11, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

University of Michigan distances itself from Mitt Romney's health care speech

By Nathan Bomey

Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked the University of Michigan Health System as the stage for his major health care reform speech Thursday — but that doesn't mean the university is comfortable with the corresponding political theater.


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seen here in Holland in 2006, is speaking Thursday in Ann Arbor.

File photo | Grand Rapids Press

The university issued a statement today distancing itself from the former Massachusetts governor's invitation-only speech at the U-M Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor.

"The use of our facility by Gov. Romney does not constitute endorsement of the content of his speech nor of his potential candidacy by the U-M Health System or the University of Michigan," U-M said in a statement. "As a public institution, the University of Michigan cannot endorse candidates."

U-M also emphasized that the speech is being organized and paid for by the U-M chapter of College Republicans "in accordance with guidelines for official student groups that wish to hold events in university facilities."

It was not immediately clear whether any U-M executives plan to attend the speech or meet with former Michigan native Romney, who has been forced to explain his Massachusetts health care reform initiative to conservatives.

In a news release, Romney's team said he plans to propose reforms that would "make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program" by giving states more power to make choices on how to manage Medicaid, providing a tax deduction to workers who purchase their own health insurance and reducing the number of medical malpractice law suits.

Among those who won't be in attendance is Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. His spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, said in an e-mail that Romney invited the former Ann Arbor venture capitalist to the event but that the governor can't attend or speak to Romney by phone due to scheduling conflicts.

"He’ll hope to connect with him soon," Wurfel said.

During Michigan's 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, Romney endorsed U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra. But after Snyder beat Hoekstra and three other established Republicans in the primary, Romney endorsed Snyder and briefly campaigned for him.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Fri, May 13, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

I'm trying to give your correspondent a break, based on his photo (he looks about 12). perhaps he doesn't understand that the University of Michigan would have given that exact same explanation about ANY presidential candidate. the U does not, cannot, endorse candidates, and we (I work there) work very hard to make sure we remain neutral about all candidates in all parties. it's typical to try and spin this as the U-M "distancing" itself because Romney is a bad guy. if was a responsible news outlet, this would be irresponsible journalism. since it isn't, really, it's just irritating.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

Maybe the University could have "distanced themselves" from Governor Snyder when he spoke at graduation?


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Anybody else enjoying the crop of GOP contenders? For fiscal responsibility- Trump. aka Mr Bankruptcy Court. Celebrity entertainer For Family Values- Newt Gingrich, promoter of the Defense of Marriage Act, twice divorced. Celebrity entertainer on FOX For health care- Mitt Romney, flip flopper For "The People"- Rick Santorum, tossed out by PA voters. Celebrity entertainer on FOX Watch closely as the GOP runs against "celebrities" who use their fame and wealth to promote their politics


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

I see no difference with the democrats


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

From the article: "In a news release, Romney's team said he plans to propose reforms that would "make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program" by giving states more power to make choices on how to manage Medicaid, providing a tax deduction to workers who purchase their own health insurance and reducing the number of medical malpractice law suits." How does this differ from Paul Ryan's plan proposed to Congress which is generating anger at many recent Republican town hall meetings? Instead of reducing healthcare costs in general and improving medical care for everyone the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan plan will steal dollars from the average citizen's wallet to fatten the executive salaries of health care insurance companies and HMO's.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Sure would like one of our cons to explain how a system that uses private insurance and private hospitals is a "government run top down" system. Self employed persons already get a tax break if their health care costs reach a certain percentage.

Peter Jameson

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

It's too bad that our president didn't learn from Mitt's mistakes.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 11:47 a.m.

Yea! Another talking point! I love it when the "independent thinker" crowd marches in step.

Moscow On The Huron

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

I don't recall the University distancing itself much from Obama last year. His whole presidency has been a campaign.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

When did the Commander in Chief use a UM facility to make a campaign speech last year?


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

Here is a little more insight on the topic, granted from another news source <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Actually, Trespass is right, all the health care providers are jockeying to become Accountable Care Organizations. The government is planning on bundeling payments for your health care services, the ACO will get the money and then hand it out based on parameters and care markers that the ACO will create for the providers in the respective network. It should be noted that patients who have a problem recovering and getting better, living healthy, or who have chronic diseases are not going to be good for those providers to have in their equation for their share of the til, and as a result those patients are going to be shunned by the providers. You think the cherry picking by charter schools for quality is studetns is bad, wait until you see what happens with health care and the cherry picking for patients who don't cost money.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Would U-M support Hillary if she was giving a speech?


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:30 a.m.

Like Snyder, Romney only mentioned cutting from the poor (Medicaid); in fact it is Medicare spending that is bankrupting the country. This man is a coward, he needs to stand up for what he believes in.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

He doesn't believe in anything. He simply exists to makes money for others.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Hey Gov. Mitt Romney, why don't you go talk crazy somewhere else, huh? We're all full here in Ann Arbor!!!


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Senator Wyden (Oregon) has introduced legislation that would allowed individual states to opt-out of the mandate provision of the Health Care Reform Act (HRCA or 'Obamacare'). Why doesn't Gov. Romney indorse this plan? Allow States to choose what works best for them. Under the bill, if a State (say Michigan) can show an alternative plan that still increases access to the 30 million American Citizens who do not have health insurance (that number does not include any undocumented persons living here) then that State would be allowed to opt-out of the mandate. Or, like Massachusetts did under Gov. Romney, if they find that a mandate that everyone be required to purchase Health Insurance, they can stick with the Federal Mandate (which is modeled after the law Gov. Romney passed in Massachusetts). I'm interested to here the reasons Gov. Romney will present about repeal. Especially why it would be good to repeal the parts of the HCRA that make it illegal for a health insurance company to drop you when you get sick. Or have a lifetime maximum limit on the benefits they will pay. Or the part of HCRA that made it illegal not to provide coverage just because of a pre-existing condition. Your move, Governor. P.S. Personally, I am for &quot;tort-reform&quot; or anything that can reduce the use of &quot;defensive medicine&quot; which does drive up costs. Most studies show this would have a small effect on overall costs, but I'm still for it. Also, I'm come clean and say that I'm also very in favor of a single-payor system. I have a major problem with private companies making billions off of all of our health. I wonder if they pay any taxes?


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

And sometime soon Mitt Romney will distance himself from Mitt Romney's health care speech.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

This story could be a lot more interesting, if the reporter looked into how the University has handled other possible, presidential candidates (especially the more liberal ones).


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

Romney and Snyder, flipping and flopping... like a couple fish out of water... what a pair.


Sat, May 14, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

Romney - Universal Healthcare, Snyder - Tax Breaks.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

What did they flip and flop about?


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

An official from the UM College of Medicine gave a speech last year at the Regents meeting outlining how much extra money they could expect to make because of the healthcare reform. It was hundreds of millions of dollars. Therefore, it is quite understandable that the University would not want Mr. Romney to interrupt the gravy train.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

If the university is so horrible, why are they spending a great deal of money providing care to uninsured individuals who will never pay them back? The care that Michigan provides to uninsured individuals is still outstanding and goes well beyond what's required by law. I'm failing to see how the Regents are horrible, money-grubbing people because they support a law that will insure more people. And in fact, they didn't make any indication of supporting the law here, they just clarified that, despite a major speech being on U of M property, the university doesn't endorse candidates.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

There's no reason the UM (or any other medical facility, for that matter) shouldn't reap benefits from healthcare reform. Reform doesn't have to mean what's good for the people is necessarily bad for the providers. (In most other areas, it's what's good for the providers - e.g., Big Oil - is not good for the people).


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

@bedrog- It's because the administators are corrupted by absolute power and they have to protect that power. Heaven forbid that they actually would have to listen to the faculty and students.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

gee trespass... why do i get the impression that you HATE anything connected with the univ. of michgan, especially its administrators.???


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Except the &quot;gravy train&quot; would be an indicator that more Americans are receiving health care. Top notch stuff, at that!


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

I think Snyder showed that Ann Arbor can be a good place for a Republican to position himself as a moderate. Pro-business, pro-technology, pro-science, pro-professional. Not much said about religion (something Romney probably doesn't want to get too deep into). Is Ann Arbor becoming to Republicans what Macomb was to Republicans back in the Reagan-era? I don't know, but Snyder was able to pass himself off as palatable to a lot of area Democrats in the run-up to the last election. I'm not so sure how those same Democrats feel today. Is there any actual substance to any of this? Probably not. But politics is posturing.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

I think Snyder is doing exactly what he said needed to be done.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Problem is, Republican Snyder positioned himself as a moderate - until he won office and is just as conservative as the rest.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Who is worse - Snyder ot Romney? Still deliberating.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

Who is worse - Hillary or Barack? Still deliberating.

Top Cat

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

Mr. Romney has some serious credibility issues. Why can't people like this just say, &quot;I did something and it was a big mistake.&quot;

Ed Kimball

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Perhaps because he doesn't believe it's a mistake, despite what most other Republicans seem to think.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

Why did Romney come here to give this speech? Wouldn't Grand Rapids be the place for this kind of speech? It amazes me how quickly he switches his positions depending on his audience and the values of the Republican base. It appears he has no base values; just the values needed at a particular moment to convince people to vote for him. Is he going to talk about RomneyCare or something? Kinda doubt it!

Boo Radley

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Why did Romney come here to give this speech? Because a U-M group organized it and paid him to come ... that's in the article.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

It is a head-scratcher of a location choice. Maybe he feels the need to give a major speech on the topic but hopes as few Republicans as possible notice? Ann Arbor would be a perfect 'clandestine' site.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

You shoul dnot be amazed to see him switch positions! After all, he is a politician and they sway around depending on the current. These politician will call anybody their father if it benefits them.