If Mitt Romney (R-Jet Ski) and Scott Brown (R-Brewski) want their campaign messages to be in step, they’re doing a pretty poor job of keeping off one another’s toes.
Start with Romney gunsel Eric-a-Sketch Fehrnstrom’s Monday comment on MSNBC (via the Atlantic) that the Romney campaign agrees with Barack Obama that the healthcare reform individual mandate is a penalty, not a tax.
Cut to Brown saying that he agrees with Romney, as reported in the Boston Herald:
Brown [agreed] that the national health care mandate included in what has come to be known as Obamacare, which forces consumers to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, is not a “tax” — a departure from conservative talking points but in line with GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney’s re-adjusting stance in his fight for the White House.
“It’s not a tax,” Brown said [Tuesday] during an event in Quincy.
Then – awkward! – Romney says on Wednesday that the individual mandate actually is a tax (via Newser):
Romney: Health Mandate Is a Tax
CONTRADICTS ERIC FEHRNSTROM’S COMMENTS
Days after a spokesman asserted that ObamaCare’s individual mandate is not a tax in Mitt Romney’s view, the candidate himself is saying the opposite—thus aligning with the rest of his party. Romney tells CBS News that while he agreed with the Supreme Court’s dissent, “the dissent lost. … The majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There’s no way around that.”
Romney said that meant that President Obama had “broken the pledge he made” not to raise taxes on middle-income families. Of course, the shift opens Romney to criticism that he too raised taxes in passing Massachusetts’ version of health care reform.
Of course, the shift also left Brown swinging in the wind, but apparently he’s willing to stay there.
From today’s Boston Herald:
Brown displayed his support for the president’s stance on the controversial health care mandate — and found himself suddenly on the opposite side from GOP candidate Mitt Romney. During a Fourth of July parade in Plymouth, Brown bucked the conservative argument that the individual mandate, featured in both Obama’s and Romney’s health care reforms, is a tax.
“I’ll stand by my positions,” Brown asserted later at a parade in Wakefield, after news broke that Romney had reversed his campaign’s stance and declared that the fee charged to those who fail to get health insurance is a tax.
Still waiting for the Boston Globe’s version of this faux pas de deux. We’ll keep you posted.