Last night, as he scored a final point on Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney claimed that the former speaker and the Heritage Foundation had first germinated the idea of a health care mandate. Scholars from the Heritage Foundation happened to be here. They didn't love that moment.
"We had written about it and thought about it in a different context," said Heritage's Michael Franc. "Don't forget, there's a difference between federal and state plans, and the clear case against [Obamacare] is that it's federal."
What else is disputable? "It's not an easy question and we change our minds," he said. "The story about the Massachusetts mandate is that Romney's original idea was that you had to buy coverage designed by the state. If you did not, you could go without coverage, but had to put down a $10,000 bond, and if you never used it, you could get it back when you left the state. It wasn't the Obama plan, but that's being attributed to him."
So was Romney totally unfair? Maybe that's not the most interesting question. James Taranto, a Heritage vet, writes at length here about whether it's fair to judge Romney on the mandate, when conservatives came up with the darn idea. Yes, he says. It is. The principle is the same.