Although the Fourth of July is usually a dead time for politics, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign team has attracted criticism after spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney agrees with President Barack Obama that the individual health insurance mandate is not a tax.
The Supreme Court upheld Obama’s 2010 health care reform law last Thursday, ruling that its insurance mandate was constitutional as a tax. Opponents of the law found a silver lining in this rewriting of the mandate as a tax.
Following the Fehrnstrom’s remark, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch used their Twitter accounts as a platform to suggest Romney should shake up his campaign staff.
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, however, downplayed the criticisms during a Tuesday appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“I mean, if you look at where the race is right now, we saw some recent polls coming out this morning showing in the battleground states, Gov. Romney has a pretty sizable lead over President Obama and the race is a margin-of-error race,” said Christie. “If I told you back in February, Gov. Romney is getting beaten up all over the Republican primary that we’d be sitting here Fourth of July and he would be in a dead heat with the president, you would have signed up for that. The fact of the matter is that Gov. Romney has run a good campaign. He’s focused. He’s confident. And I don’t think there’s, you know, any time to change right now. I think we’ve got a good campaign team and they’re moving the campaign forward.”
As for Fehrnstrom’s statement, perceived to be a misstep, Christie told “Fox & Friends” he is less concerned about spokespeople and more concerned about candidates.
“Listen, I get less concerned about what spokespeople say and more concerned about what the person who is going to be President of the United States is,” he said. “I think sometimes we get obsessed over — you know, what different spokespeople will say. You know why there’s spokespeople and not candidates? You just saw that reason. You know, Gov. Romney knows what he feels about these issues and he feels strongly about them.”
Christie wouldn’t say whether or not Fehrnstrom’s remarks were a mistake.
“Listen, I’m not going to evaluate it whether it was a mistake. It doesn’t matter to me. We have a 24-hour news cycle and you have to cover it 24 hours, and campaign doesn’t feel it’s necessary to push people out there to do that. What the American people will focus on what they hear from Mitt Romney directly. And what they’re hearing from him is the plan to put Americans back to work. And that’s what they really care about.”