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Romney describes healthcare mandate as conservative principle

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the insurance mandate included in the Massachusetts healthcare law he signed is fundamentally a conservative principle.

Speaking Wednesday on Fox and Friends, Romney defended the Bay State’s healthcare law, which includes a version of the individual mandate, as inline with the Republican world view. The individual mandate was the centerpiece and most controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which has widely been blasted by Republicans as governmental overreach.

“I’m happy to stand by the things that I believe. I’m not going to change my positions by virtue of being in a presidential campaign,” Romney said. “What we did was right for the people of Massachusetts, the plan is still favored there by 3 to 1 and it is fundamentally a conservative principle to insist that people take personal responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free care.”

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On Tuesday, Romney and rival Newt Gingrich jabbed at each other over the matter after The Wall Street Journal uncovered a 2006 memo in which Gingrich said he “agreed entirely” with Romney’s healthcare bill.

Buzzfeed also uncovered a 2008 video in which Gingrich passionately defended the idea of an individual mandate and called it “immoral” for those who can afford to have insurance not to buy it.

“I knew that [Gingrich] supported the plan in the past, and I believe he supported it until he got into the race this year, but maybe before that he changed his view,” Romney said. “Look, our plan was right for our state, and in my view it was based on conservative principles that frankly came from Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation, which was that instead of people relying on government to provide their care, they should take personal responsibility.”

But Gingrich said he now realizes that there are aspects of the law that are “unacceptable,” and that unlike Romney, he has the courage to say so.  

“There are a lot of details of ‘Romneycare’ that are unacceptable,” Gingrich said Tuesday on CNN. “And the difference between me and Romney is I’ve concluded — and I’m prepared to say publicly — I’ve concluded, just as the Heritage Foundation did, that the idea didn’t work. Romney’s still defending the mandate that he passed.”


Both Romney and Gingrich have vowed to repeal Obama’s healthcare law if elected president.

Romney is battling Ron Paul for the lead in polls of Iowa voters less than a week before that state’s GOP caucus. Gingrich had been in the lead, but has faded under attack from Romney and other GOP candidates.