Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) brought her bus tour to New England today, and while she hasn’t shown much of an interest in talking to the political reporters who follow her around like paparazzi, today, she was only too pleased to set aside plenty of time to chat.

Less than an hour before Mitt Romney was to announce his second bid for the White House in New Hampshire, Sarah Palin appeared in Romney’s hometown and set about picking apart the health care plan he supported as governor of Massachusetts, suggesting it may be a fatal flaw for his candidacy.

Surrounded by reporters for several minutes while visiting the Bunker Hill monument along Boston’s Freedom Trail, Palin delivered her unvarnished opinions of the Romney heath care plan, which mandated that Massachusetts residents purchase health insurance or else face penalties.

“In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, obviously and I am not the only to say so, but obviously there will be more explanation coming from Gov. Romney for his support of government mandates,” said Palin, on day five of her “One Nation” bus tour of historic sites on the East Coast. […]

“Even on a state level and a local level, mandates coming from a governing body, it’s tough for a lot of us to accept because we have great faith in the private sector and in our own families and in our businessmen and women in making decisions for ourselves,” she explained. “Not any level of government telling us what to do.”

The Romney campaign has counted on the notion that Republicans will appreciate a subtle distinction — a health care mandate from the federal government is Nazi-like fascism that destroys freedom and tears at the very fabric of American civilization, but a health care mandate from a state government is just dandy.

Palin’s criticism, which will likely be echoed by other conservatives in the coming months, suggests the right won’t necessarily see the difference.

In case that weren’t quite enough, Rudy Giuliani — remember him? — also took a rare swipe at Romney today, saying, “The reality is that Obamacare and Romneycare are almost exactly the same. It’s not very helpful trying to distinguish them. I would think the best way to handle it is to say, ‘It was a terrible mistake and if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t do it.’”

Yes, even Giuliani is getting in on the fun. Actual candidates like Pawlenty didn’t even have to bother.

As for Palin, Steve M. added, “If you’re not running against [Romney], would you blindside your own party’s front-runner? Especially when he seems to be the only person in the party who’s running and who could possibly win both the nomination and the general election? It seems like a strange thing to do.”

Yes it does. But one thing’s for sure: the DNC loves to see Republicans beating each other up, and sent around this video today.

YouTube video

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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.