As Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney imposed a penalty on people who could afford health insurance but chose to go without it. As Republican presidential candidate, Romney opposes the federal health care law that does the same thing.

Last week, Romney’s top campaign adviser said the federal penalty for refusing to get health coverage was exactly that — a fine, not a tax. This week, Romney said it is a tax because the Supreme Court opinion he opposes declared it a tax.

Confused? So is the Romney campaign, apparently.

The back-and-forth shows the tightrope Romney must walk on the health care reform issue now that he is the certain Republican presidential nominee.

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