Newt Gingrich has spent the leadup to the state’s presidential primary casting Mitt Romney as Barack Obama’s Republican twin, telling reporters this morning that Romney’s Massachusetts healtcare reform law “is Obamacare.”
But it turns out Newt has some serious Obamacare problems of his own.
Blogger Morgen Richmond unearthed a May 2009 conference call today, that was hosted by Siemens Healthcare, in which Gingrich comes out unequivocally in support of the individual mandate, the most hotly-contested provision of Obamacare, which requires every American to buy health insurance.
“We believe…that everyone must have health-insurance,” Gingrich says. “Or if you are an absolute libertarian, we would allow you to post a bond, but we would not allow people to be free-riders, failing to insure themselves and then show up at the emergency room with no means of payment.”
Even more damning is Gingrich’s praise for Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, which he says is a “model we will be advocating.”
As Richmond notes, the audio eliminates any lingering questions about where Gingrich stands on healthcare reform. The former House Speaker’s past support for the individual mandate has been an issue during the 2012 race, but this call appears to be the most recent — and undeniable — support for Obama’s controversial law. And it obviously goes against Gingrich’s current position that the individual mandate is “unconstitutional,” which he repeats often on the campaign trail.
The clip could pose serious problems for Gingrich, who has increasingly aligned himself with the Tea Party movement during his White House bid. The Tea Party movement shot to national prominence during the heated 2009 heathcare debates, and many in the movement will likely have a problem with Gingrich’s past support for the much-loathed Democratic legislation.
The Gingrich campaign has not yet responded to Business Insider’s requests for comment.
(On another note, the existence of this conference call also underscores the weakness of Romney’s opposition research. These clips may have helped knock down Gingrich’s Romneycare attacks a long time ago.)
Clips of the conference call are posted below. You can also listen to the whole thing here.