July 5th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Some prominent supporters blast Romney for mixed messages on health care 'tax'

Some prominent Mitt Romney supporters are saying the presidential hopeful's campaign should stop sending mixed messages about the Supreme Court's health care ruling.

Romney and his staffers have been going back and forth on whether to call it a tax as an attack on President Obama or not a tax, to preserve the argument that Romney never raised taxes in his state despite having a similar health care law.

Head spinning a bit? We'll backtrack.

On Wednesday, Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said the federal health care reform mandate constitutes a "tax," contradicting the way his senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, of the Etch-a-Sketch gaffe fame, characterized his position earlier this week. But the similar individual mandate and fee he signed into law when governor of Massachusetts is not a tax, he said in a separate interview, citing the Supreme Court's decision last Thursday.

In March, Fehrnstrom made headlines for saying in a CNN interview that the transition from the primaries to the general election was "almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."

Some people are calling the tax chatter another Romney flip-flop. Others are calling it the Etch-a-Sketch redux. Others, like editor of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel, are saying this incident makes the previous gaffe look like solid campaign strategy.

[tweet https://twitter.com/KatrinaNation/status/220865306871078912%5D

And now, plenty of people, including his supporters, are hitting Romney on the issue and letting him know that either he needs to get himself aligned with his staff on these issues, or scrap some of the staff and get a new game plan as they charge into the general election.

Media baron Rupert Murdoch, never shy on his views, tweeted that while he supports the former Massachusetts governor he believes Romney needs to shake up his staff to have a chance to beat Obama's seasoned campaign staff.

[tweet https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/219393140245807104%5D

And apparently, that tweet upset the Romney campaign, which prompted Murdoch to follow up with a tweet on Monday. He said he wants Romney to win, but instead of the campaign upset about the criticism they should heed some of the good advice Murdoch feels Romney is getting about trying to get his campaign in order.

[tweet https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/219790585307992067%5D

Murdoch's tweets of fury were followed by agreement from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, and then a blistering editorial from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal.

Welch tweeted that he hoped Romney's camp would heed Murdoch's advice, noting that the Obama campaign staff is a well-oiled machine at this point.

[tweet https://twitter.com/jack_welch/status/219940669840568320%5D

And the Wall Street Journal went further with an elaborate editorial that declared the tax or not a tax issue is indicative of larger campaign problems. The editorial says what could have easily been a choreographed way to attack Obama has essentially turned into a political defeat for Romney.

"Why make such an unforced error? Because it fits with Mr. Romney's fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, as if that is worse than confusing voters about the tax and health-care issues. Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we've said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-ObamaCare case to voters ...

His latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity. Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years. But Mr. Romney hasn't been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground.

The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that "Obama isn't working." Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."

soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. On Topic

    Our HUGE healthcare costs can all but half be accouned for by adding the cost of maintaining a nationwide obesity epidemic to how much we spend on mind altering drugs. (hint: more than we spend on National Defense and AIDS resitant condoms combined)
    Those described above are the ones wanting to be on the same health plan as thusly described; those who make healthy lifestyle and bedroom choices that place themselves in LOW RISK GROUPS for even automobile insurance.

    July 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. morons r us

    Well then run for president sir/madame/whatever! Unless you got something in yer backround that you wouldn't qualitfy for prez thenn like mental instability. If you can't fixit, you should shush.

    July 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CarolinaKate

    If Romney continues as the "presumptive GOP candidate," then Obama is the presumptive next President.

    July 6, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ian Leon

    Mr. Romney, please stop listening to so called advisors! You built great businesses with your own mind, as well as leading a Great State with your own intelligence. Be yourself and stop listening to so called advisors who change their minds daily. Be yourself, if you want to win!

    July 6, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinker

      Built great businesses with his OWN MIND? Try using yours a bit and remember who his daddy is. What you need in business almost as much as a good idea is.....*drumroll*.... CASH!!!!!! where do you think he got his?... think a bit.

      July 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brillancefasho

    Romney may have some good ideas on how to improve the health care system but his ideas dont apparantly solve the mess it's in. He needs to not play the blame game here as clearly as he has been doing now citing Obama as being at fault for things that has gone wrong with in the system. I think Romney has it all wrong i dont support him as a canidate.When it comes time to vote again I will be voting for Obama. On one last note i have to say 'God help us.'

    July 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tyrone, Schenectady NY

    Romney2Sides is being himself saying what the crowd likes depending on who the crowd is. I know the man is a liberal I was going for him over BushvGore that way wither way we would have a lib in the White House.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Judith

    Mitt the Human Wind Sock lived by the Sea, He changes with every political breeze for all of us to see! This man is the biggest fraud who has ever run for President. He makes Tricky Dick look like a man of principle.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      as opposed to Obama, who is the biggest fraud to have ever won the presidency.

      July 9, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar


      What makes Obama a fraud? Because he's black?

      July 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. allens

    romney will say anything to get elected. he is not to be trusted. i have never seen anything like this, accept for craig huey running for office in ca.

    July 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GS

    Everyone say obamacare kill jobs. But. If more people can afford to see doctor, and go hospital, need medicine, need equipment, then the patient/customer base just expanded. Wouldn't that cause an increase in demand? Who know, maybe doctor and nurse or pharmo job can be create?

    July 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • HPNIII

      I think this discussion is over your head, they are talking about manufacturing and small business jobs. Now that we are headed in the right direction,it is also just part "Sky is falling" tactics used by the Republican Party to scare people about anything that is a change from the status quo. The republican party is the "Do nothing party" of Chicken Little.

      July 9, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. GS

    Everyone say obamacare cut jobs. But. If more people can afford to see doctor, and go hospital, need medicine, need equipment, then the patient/customer base just expanded. Wouldn't that cause an increase in demand? Who know, maybe health care job can create more job?

    July 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vidal808

    I don't respond to any of these comments. I am responding to this article. If you have not noticed yet, Romney has been trying to appease all the bases of the Republican party since he started running for the Presidency. As a Mormon, I believe that he strongly believes in what he is saying at any given time however the problem are his staff – he has no control over them – now imagine him in the WH being surrounded by a staff he has no control over?? Good luck USA – the mice are running loose and circles around the stupid cat, jejejejeje.... America, remember, you have to have a leader that has authority and can control his staff, make decissions – even unpopular ones at times.... Obama has proven that he can. over and over he has a track record to show for it. I will vote for Obama since there is no prove hat the Republicans would have been able to improve the oeconomy more then Obama did. The recovery will take time and Obama is on the right track, why change the guatd in mid stream? Does not make any sense at all.... Listen America, jejejejejeje

    July 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      wow. You HONESTLY believe that Obama has a track record? Incredible. Enjoy your koolaid.

      July 9, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar


      Yes, it's called a voting record, as well as a record for bills he's signed into law. Almost every politician has a track record. Is today your first day reading politics?

      July 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sortakinda

    Isn't Murdoch supposed to be in jail in the UK?

    July 9, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. BADGUY

    How long is this "tax", "mandate", "fine" nonsense going to continue? Where are the jobs?

    July 9, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      It starts in 2014. Go to "wikipedia Patient protection affordable care act, and they have tables and graphs and more info on how it effects you.

      July 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Obama Mama


    July 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Penny

    Oh crap. I click on the news tab thinking this was an article written by a journalist... then I realized I was on the CNN page!

    August 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
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