ROMNEY URGED TO ABANDON HIS SIGNATURE ACCOMPLISHMENT…. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has a small problem for which there is no easy answer.

He served one term — had he sought another, Romney would have very likely lost — during which he had one signature accomplishment: passing statewide health care reform. At the time, the success cast Romney in a positive light, demonstrating his ability to tackle major policy challenges and work with members of both parties to pass a sensible, mainstream legislative milestone.

That, at least in theory, is the sort of thing a governor could parlay into a national campaign. That task was made far more difficult, however, by Democrats passing the Affordable Care Act — which looks an awful lot like Romney’s health care reform package in Massachusetts.

The more Republican activists and donors hate President Obama’s breakthrough, and notice that the Democratic policy is eerily similar to Romney’s policy, the more they’ll likely end up rejecting Romney’s next presidential campaign and the one major thing he got done during his only experience in government at any level.

What to do? The right has some advice.

Conservatives … are increasingly blunt in their advice to Romney: Say you’re sorry.

“I guarantee that, at the top of everyone’s list on how to differentiate your guy from Mitt Romney, the top of the list is health care — until and unless he takes the opportunity to say, ‘We tried, and it didn’t work. The individual mandate at the heart of Obamacare and Romneycare was wrong,’” said Bill Pascoe, a Republican strategist who wrote a post on his blog earlier this year titled “Say Goodbye to Mitt.” […]

“I would advise him to acknowledge he made a mistake,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Conservative Victory Committee, who has been critical of Romney in the past for his stance on social issues. “You are defending a sinking ship. Put it this way, I don’t know of any other potential candidate who has as big of a potential single-issue problem as this one.”

At a certain level, this is all terribly silly. Obama’s policy, like Romney’s policy, is a moderate solution to a long-standing national problem. Their plans are the sort of thing that can enjoy bipartisan support — and would had the GOP not gotten so hysterical and extreme in recent years.

But that is, of course, the point. Romney did one big thing during one term, and now his own party doesn’t want to hear about it. On the contrary, they’re demanding an apology before they hear anything else.

The irony for Romney is that he’s flip-flopped on practically every issue I can think of, but the one position he’s inclined to stick to is the one the GOP base finds wholly unacceptable.

It’s worth noting, though, that it’s not just Romney. Jon Chait added, “I’d also be curious to hear from some conservatives about how they see this. In 2008, nearly all of them were fine with Romney’s health care plan. (National Review endorsed Romney for president.) Now, to a man, nearly all of them believe the imposition of a regulate/subsidize/mandate scheme represents one of the worst catastrophes in American history. How do they account for their dramatic change of mind? Were conservatives all simply wrong and ignorant in 2008, and now they’ve opened their eyes?”

Maybe we should expect a whole lot of apologies from conservatives who had no problem with Obama’s health care policy until it was Obama’s health care policy.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.