Obamacare Mandate a Problem for Both Candidates?

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The presidential campaign is kicking into a higher gear Thursday as President Obama begins the first bus tour of his re-election bid.

Obama will make stops in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, with Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. Tim Pawlenty acting as surrogates for candidate Mitt Romney falling closely behind.

Both governors will campaign in many of the same towns that Obama stops in.

What's not clear is just what the president and his opponents will say about the Supreme Court's recent ruling on healthcare.

Romney may have unintentionally made the issue more complicated Wednesday during  an interview with CBS reporter Jan Crawford Romney.

"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," he said. "You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way but they didn't." 

That's a change from an earlier statement by his campaign on Monday. Senior Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom told an MSNBC interviewer that Romney viewed the mandate as a penalty, a fee or a fine--but not a tax.

"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.

Since the ruling, Republicans have criticized Obama for raising taxes in the healthcare law. Now some Democrats believe they may have an easier time saying Romney did the same in Massachusetts.

But conservatives note that Obamacare remains unpopular with much of the public and that despite what happened in Massachusetts, Romney can use the ruling to his advantage in the campaign.

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody predicted in his recent blog on The Brody File that Romney "is in danger of losing his footing on the healthcare issue."

"The mainstream media (and some conservative media) will be relentless on him until he can somehow come up with a coherent answer to this question: 'Is the individual mandate in Obamacare a tax?'" he wrote. 

For more Brody analysis, check out his blog, The Brody File.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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