By Justin Sink
Mitt Romney's campaign is touting a newly unearthed clip of Newt Gingrich praising the individual mandate in President Obama's healthcare plan as the former Massachusetts governor looks to solidify his growing lead in the pivotal Florida primary.
In the clip from a 2009 teleconference Gingrich held in his capacity representing his healthcare consulting organization, Gingrich speaks in support of an individual mandate.
"If you have must carry, then the insurance companies have told us that we can have ‘must issue,’ and you will therefore have a system in which you don’t have to worry about cherry-picking and maneuvering," he continued. "As we move beyond today’s press conference at the White House, this is the kind of general model we’re going to be advocating.”
Since the passage of the president's healthcare reform legislation in 2010, conservatives have keyed in on that requirement when attacking the bill as unconstitutional.
The clip isn't revelatory in it's own right — Gingrich has voiced at least some support for the individual mandate as recently as May 2011, before later saying that he was "wrong" to have done so. Romney also supported an individual mandate on the state level as part of his Massachusetts healthcare reform package.
“I’ve said in the debates, yes, I used to be for mandates. I was wrong,” Gingrich told CBS in December. “Why doesn’t Mitt admit it? He’s still for the mandate in Massachusetts. It doesn’t work, it’s going to bankrupt the state. The difference between Romney and me is, we both used to have the wrong idea. I’m willing to say it was the wrong idea, he’s not. And I think it’s funny that they want to attack me for admitting that I was wrong, but they won’t admit that he’s now wrong to think he’s still right when he’s wrong.”
But the fact that the Romney campaign is circulating the clip underscores the extent to which his team wants to prevent another last-minute rally by Gingrich.
"You're not going to see Mitt Romney go into cruise control after Florida, no matter what happens in Florida," senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told NBC Monday.