Newt as Haunted by Health Care as Mitt

Turns out Gingrich used to really like individual mandates before Obama

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In the race to see which Republican has the most haunting health care past, Newt Gingrich has now tied Mitt Romney. The reason? Newt was strongly for individual mandates before he was against them. Unlike Romney, who still refuses to repent for his sins while trying to help uninsured sick people at the state level, Gingrich seemingly performed an about-face when Obama decided that requiring individuals to buy insurance would be a key part of his reforms.

Bringing this to our attention was The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, who dug through newspaper archives to find quotes that Gingrich presumably wishes he hadn't uttered. Like this one from a Des Moines Register op-ed: "Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it." Or this one from his book Real Change: "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond)." And on and on.

Good ol' Newt has been very reliable about shifting positions since his latest round of earnest flirtation with conservative voters. His most recent high-profile gaffe was when he changed his mind so much about Libya that even he had to acknowledge he contradicted himself. "You can't flip-flop and be commander-in-chief," he reportedly said on Fox News in ancient times--2004. He shouldn't be too hard on himself: plenty of Republicans have a selective memory about individual mandates. Then too, conservatives might not be too keen on Newt, even without the health care conversion.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.