Some political pundits saw problems for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when his adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Monday that the healthcare reform law’s individual mandate is a penalty rather than a tax.
But New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie says Fehrnstrom’s comments are irrelevant.
“Listen, I get less concerned about what spokespeople say and more concerned about what the person who’s going to be president of the United States says,” Christie told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday.
“I think sometimes we get obsessed over what different spokespeople will say. You know why they’re spokespeople and not candidates? You just saw that reason. . . . Romney knows what he feels about these issues.”
The issue with Fehrnstrom’s remarks is that they conflict with many Republicans’ take on the decision of Supreme Court Chief Justice that the mandate is constitutional on the basis that it’s a tax. Republicans were then able to call the mandate a huge tax increase imposed by President Barack Obama.
But, “it’s very important for us to distinguish between what a spokesperson might say on TV and what the candidate himself is going to say,” Christie said. “I listen to Mitt Romney. And when Mitt Romney speaks, I see a candidate that’s now more self-confident, more self-assured, more on message than at any time during the campaign.”
Asked whether Fehrnstrom made a “mistake,” Christie said, “I’m not even going to even evaluate whether it was a mistake or not. It doesn’t matter to me.”
As for his own view of the mandate, which requires Americans to buy health insurance or face a financial penalty, “I thought all along that it was a tax,” Christie said. “And I don’t think it’s exclusively a tax or a penalty. It’s both, and there’s no question in my mind about that.”
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