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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 27th, 2013
02:04 PM ET

Exclusive: Romney disagrees with GOP ‘tactics’ on Obamacare in D.C.

By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper and Sherisse Pham

(CNN) - [Updated 5:30 p.m. ET] Mitt Romney thinks Obamacare is a bad law that will hurt the country, but disagrees with how conservatives in Washington are trying to get rid of it.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said using the politically charged Affordable Care Act as a wedge in Washington’s fiscal wars is counterproductive.

"We're more effective tactically not to use a shutdown of some kind to pursue the ... anti-Obamacare objective. I don't think that will be as effective," Romney said in the interview conducted on Friday in Boston.

"The tactic of using a government shutdown to try and push that will be counterproductive politically, that it's going to end up hurting our party, and it could well - it could be inconvenience, and hurt some individuals as well, and checks are late, and so forth," said Romney.

Romney, however, gave Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas credit for speaking for more than 21 hours against the health care law, a marathon he called a "quasi filibuster."

But, Romney adds, "I think there's a better way of getting rid of Obamacare - my own view - and that is, one, delaying it by at least a year."

"The other would be potentially working hard to get Republicans elected to the House and Senate and they'd be able to do in a traditional way," said Romney.

When it comes to negotiations over the debt ceiling, which is a separate crisis from the looming government shutdown, Republican leaders want a number of conditions.

These include one-year delay of Obamacare, blocking certain business regulations, federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating ash waste from coal fired power plants.

Romney called those demands "a tactical choice."

Asked if a showdown over the debt ceiling is an effective tactic, the former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive pivoted to leadership and political entanglements in Washington.

"There's no question that the political dysfunction is the cause of many of the problems of the country," he said, noting that leadership is needed "break through" it.

"And unfortunately, we haven't seen the kind of leadership in the White House. The president spends his time attacking the opposition party," he said.

Asked how he could reconcile his opinion of Obamacare with the health care law he championed while governor of Massachusetts, Romney said the two issues were very different.

"We don't have in my state people losing jobs - 40-hour-week jobs, going down to 29.5-hour-week jobs as a result of the bill that we passed," said Romney.

Moreover, Romney added, Massachusetts' plan was not meant to be implemented nationally, it was meant to be a guide for individual states to craft their own health care plans.

"Let them do it in their own way. And if Vermont wants to be a single-payer, socialized medicine state, let them try it. We'll learn from that experiment. But don't have the federal government impose a one-size-fits-all plan on the entire nation because it will hurt people, and it is."

The next presidential campaign is years away, but there are lessons to be learned from Romney's failed bid for the White House.

"The largest strategic error was not investing sufficiently, particularly in Hispanic TV and Hispanic outreach to help Hispanic voters understand that ours is the party of opportunity," said Romney.

One of the problems with the Latino vote, was that Republicans and Romney were viewed by voters as being against immigration reform, against the bipartisan comprehensive reform effort.

"I think my position and the position of our party is not well understood at the Hispanic community," said Romney. "I want to see immigration reform. I said that during the campaign. I want to make sure we have a legal immigration system that brings, in my view, more people legally to our country. I'd like to do that."

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