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So What Does He Believe? Gingrich Gives Confusing Statements About Individual Mandate

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"Variation" vs. no mandate "period."

Yesterday, Newt Gingrich supported a "variation" of President Obama's controversial individual insurance mandate. Today, he opposes the mandate "period." What changed in 24 hours?

Mediaite's Jon Bershad gives a narrative here. In short, here's what Gingrich told NBC's David Gregory on"Meet the Press" yesterday when confronted with some past support of the mandate idea:

MR. GREGORY: Now, I know you’ve got big difference with what you call Obamacare. But back in 1993 on this program this is what you said about the individual mandate. Watch.

(Videotape, October 3, 1993)

REP. GINGRICH: I am for people, individuals–exactly like automobile insurance–individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: What you advocate there is precisely what President Obama did with his healthcare legislation, is it not?

REP. GINGRICH: No, it’s not precisely what he did.

[...]

REP. GINGRICH: Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay–help pay for health care. And, and I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I’ve said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond…

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

REP. GINGRICH: …or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.

MR. GREGORY: But that is the individual mandate, is it not?

REP. GINGRICH: It’s a variation on it.

Watch it here:

Today, he's singing a seemingly different tune. Gingrich released a YouTube video titled, "Newt: I oppose the Obamacare mandate. Period." In it, he says, "I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals:"

Yesterday, a "variation." Today, no mandate "period."

But those comments aren't the only ones that has Gingrich in the headlines. He's also under fire for remarks he made about Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to fix Medicare. Also on "Meet the Press" yesterday, Gingrich called Ryan's proposed overhaul "right-wing social engineering" and "radical change." From ABC:

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich said.  “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

Ryan’s plan, part of the GOP budget proposal for 2012, would establish insurance exchanges for older Americans and subsidize their purchase of a private insurance policy based on their income.

Republicans backing the budget say it would help cut the federal budget deficit by $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

That prompted a sharp retort by Ryan.

"With allies like that, who needs the left?" Ryan told guest host Raymond Arroyo on Laura Ingraham's radio show. "Hardly is that social engineering and radical," he said. "What's radical is kicking the can down the road."

Gingrich's comments also sparked a response from possible 2012 GOP candidate Rick Santorum.

"For several years, Newt Gingrich has deserved a lot of credit for thinking through a great many issues in a serious and interesting fashion.  But his criticism of Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan yesterday was a big departure from Speaker Gingrich's often sound policy proposals,” he said in a statement.  “Contrary to what Speaker Gingrich said yesterday, the Ryan plan does not 'suddenly impose' 'radical change.'"

Welcome to campaign season.

Read more from ABC.

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