Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued his sharpest attack against presumed Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney on the eve of the GOP debate in New Hampshire on Monday, tying the former Massachusetts governor to President Obama's health care overhaul.
In the process, he coined a term likely to dominate his stump speches and the debate: "ObamneyCare."
"President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it ObamneyCare," Pawlenty said on "Fox News Sunday." "What I don’t understand is that they both continue to defend it."
It didn't take long for Romney's campaign to respond to what will certainly become a common critique among Republican contenders.
"Republicans should keep the focus on President Obama's failure to create jobs and control spending," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in an e-mail to The Washington Examiner. "People are looking for leadership on the economy and the budget. Mitt Romney wants to be that leader."
The aggressive message is an about-face for Pawlenty, who essentially vowed not to throw elbows, but has failed to gain significant traction in the polls. It could also set the stage for a feisty GOP debate, the first in which Romney has participated, Monday in Manchester.