WOLFEBORO, N.H. - Mitt Romney on Wednesday said requiring all Americans to buy health insurance amounts to a tax, contradicting a senior campaign adviser who days ago said the Republican presidential candidate viewed President Barack Obama's mandate as anything but a tax.
"The majority of the court said it's a tax and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken. There's no way around that," Romney told CBS News. "You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way but they didn't. They concluded it was a tax."
Romney's comments amounted to a shift in position. Earlier in the week, senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney viewed the mandate as a penalty, a fee or a fine - not a tax.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney buys lemonade as he participates in the Fourth of July Parade in Wolfeboro, N.H., Wednesday.
The Supreme Court last week ruled that the federal requirement to buy health insurance or pay a penalty is constitutional because it can be considered a tax. The requirement is part of the broad health care overhaul that Obama signed into law in March 2010.
An identical requirement was part of the state health care law that Romney enacted when he was governor of Massachusetts.
"The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court's ruling that the mandate was a tax," Fehrnstrom said Monday on MSNBC.
Romney told CBS on Wednesday that the court opinion makes clear the state's mandate is not a tax, but a penalty.
Romney's campaign insisted it was not a change because the Republican said he agreed with the justices who dissented and would have ruled the mandate unconstitutional. The campaign said Romney agreed it is a tax simply because the court determines the "law of the land."