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Romney: 'You've got to get insurance'

Did you catch Mitt Romney on "The Tonight Show" last night? It was generally a light-hearted conversation, though Jay Leno, to his credit, asked about health care policy.

On health care, Leno pushed Romney to explain what he would offer Americans with pre-existing medical conditions so that they might retain their coverage, perhaps the most popular provision of the president's healthcare law. "People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance," Romney said, describing his vision for health care if the Affordable Care Act were to be struck down or repealed. "Suppose they haven't been insured," Leno countered. "If they are 45 years old and they show up and say I want insurance because I have heart disease, it's like, 'Hey guys. We can't play the game like that. You've got to get insurance when you are well and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered,'" Romney responded.

Like most Republicans, Romney has always backed an individual health care mandate -- the same policy the GOP now considers Nazi-Communist-Fascist tyranny -- and it's interesting that he's still capable of defending the idea, at least on a conceptual level. Indeed, the five words in that answer that stood out for me were, "You've got to get insurance."

Now, as Greg Sargent noted, Romney's conversation with Leno got a little trickier when the host pushed further, forcing the former governor to hedge on what happens to those with pre-existing conditions who didn't have insurance before. That's hardly encouraging and warrants some clarification from Team Romney.

And while Romney's aides are at it, maybe they can also explain this 2007 video, uncovered this week by our pal James Carter.

The part that stood out for me came about 41 seconds in, and in the context of the campaign, it's arguably pretty important.

Remember, for the better part of the last year, Romney has said, repeatedly and at times angrily, that he never intended for his Massachusetts health care law to serve as a national model. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, but that's his lie and he's sticking to it.

But in this October 2007 clip, then-presidential candidate Romney was explaining what he did at the state level, defending his law's efficacy, and said, "That's how we're going to be successful nationwide."

Is that so.

Romney can't, or at least shouldn't, have it both ways. He's said his state law was never supposed to go national and he's said "we're going to be successful nationwide" if his state approach to health care is adopted at the federal level.

Which is of these beliefs does Romney still accept as true?