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Barbour to Mitt Romney: Give Voters a Choice

Thursday, 5 Jul 2012 | 11:07 PM ET
Mitt Romney gives speech in NH as he sweeps states
Getty Images || Chip Somodevilla
Mitt Romney gives speech in NH as he sweeps states

Mitt Romney needs to “give people a choice” to succeed in his White House bid against President Obama, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Thursday on CNBC.

“What’s the first thing I’d do? I would say to Mitt Romney, beginning in August, you not only have to make this election a referendum on Obama’s miserable record. You have to give people a choice. You have to give people something to vote for,” he said on “The Kudlow Report.”

“At the end of the day, this will be a referendum on Obama’s record, on his policies, which are failed policies. But if Mitt Romney gives people something to vote for, that makes it so much easier for this referendum to succeed.”

Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, made headlines this week for calling the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act a tax, contradicting a top aide’s earlier assertion. His comments followed the U.S. Supreme Court landmark 5-4 decision upholding the law.

“The majority of the court said it’s a tax and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that,” Romney told CBS News. “You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way but they didn’t. They concluded it was a tax.”

Yet senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom previously said Romney considered the law’s insurance mandate as a penalty, a fee or a fine, and specifically not a tax.

Host Larry Kudlow suggested to Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman and Washington lobbyist, that Romney needed “to distill his program into something that’s understandable to ordinary people and four or five key points and go 24/7 with them.”

“Larry, I wouldn’t agree with you on that,” Barbour replied, citing his connection to Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“Let’s never forget, the election in 1980 was a referendum on Jimmy Carter’s record, and the American people knew that was a record of failure, yet until September, Jimmy Carter was ahead in the polls.”

Barbour said it was clear that the electorate did not want to re-elect the former Georgia governor but were unsure about Reagan.

“There is a timing to that that’s very important, and right now we are seeing people who think the economy is much worse than Obama tells them, that they know that this health care plan, Obamacare, that Valerie Jarrett, the president’s No. 1 adviser said on the radio, ‘We’ll get it any way we can get it,’ which means, ‘We’ll get it without admitting to the American people it’s the largest tax increase in history.’”

“The real issue is jobs and the economy,” he said. “It is a referendum on Obama.”

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"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.

Questions? Comments, send your emails to: lkudlow@kudlow.com

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"