New Audio Of Gingrich Supporting Individual Mandate Surfaces, Romney Camp Pounces

In a bit of a surprise twist, the Romney campaign is using the ‘individual mandate’ to attack their opponent — rather than staying far away from an issue Romney once favored in his home state of Massachusetts.

Today, a new audio recording of a conference call reveals Newt Gingrich supported the individual mandate as recently as May 2009. Making the rounds on Twitter and the rightwing blogs, what makes the audio interesting is that it shows Gingrich discussing the upcoming effort to pass health care reform and, rather than opposing it, he’s trying to guide it with policies like an individual mandate.

On a conference call Monday morning, Romney-surrogate Rep. Jason Chaffetz pointed to the new audio as an example of why Newt Gingrich is not a reliable conservative. “He’s certainly hypocritical on this issue,” Chaffetz says of Newt’s support of the health care mandate. “For conservatives to say Gingrich is more conservative on this issue, I beg to differ. He was right in the midst of developing it…advocating it.”

Chaffetz — a Tea Party favorite from Utah who said he is ranked the second most conservative member of the House — is using his conservative credentials to stand up for Romney’s own conservatism and against Gingrich’s decision to paint himself as the most conservative candidate. “I am not ceding ground to Newt Gingrich as a conservative,” said Chaffetz, “I think he’s a convenient conservative.”

Listen to the audio from the conference call: