Romney campaign denies true statement by Santorum

In a July 2009 opinion piece for USA Today, Mitt Romney urged President Obama to emulate the Massachusetts approach to health care reform at the federal level. And the very first thing?

First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.

Again, those are Mitt Romney's words describing what Massachusetts did in its health care reform effort that he was urging President Obama to copy at the federal level.

On Saturday Rick Santorum told a group of Ohio voters, “Governor Romney has been saying throughout the course of this campaign, ‘Oh, I never recommended that they adopt my program in Massachusetts for an individual federal mandate,’ Oh yes, he did. In a 2009 USA Today op-ed, he recommended, he made suggestions to President Obama, including the individual mandate and taxing people who don’t buy insurance. That is the individual mandate.”

As far as I can see, that's an accurate statement. But Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul complained to the website Talking Points Memo, “Rick Santorum has a habit of making distortions, exaggerations and falsehoods about Mitt Romney’s record. Governor Romney has never advocated for a federal individual mandate.”

As Steve Benen has documented in a long series of blog posts (including the latest one published Friday before this attack on Santorum came up) Romney and his campaign have a long record of stretching the truth, but this is pretty dang blatant even for them.

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