Wendy Long, legal adviser to Romney, stomps on a Romney talking point

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Long on TV. ()
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There's apparently some disagreement, even in the Mitt Romney orbit, about whether or not the individual mandate in President Obama's health care plan should be considered a penalty or a tax.

Wendy Long, who serves as a legal adviser to Romney's campaign even as she runs for U.S. Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand, sent out a press release this afternoon questioning whether Gillibrand supports the president's "massive Obamacare tax increase on the middle class."

"For the first time in history our government is taxing us for not doing something," Long asked in the release. "This is a dangerous and unprecedented attack on our freedom. If the government can tax us for not purchasing a product, what is next?"

(Gillibrand sent out a statement cheering the court's decision after the ruling was issued.) 

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This morning, Romney's top adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, agreed with President Obama's contention that the mandate should be thought of as a penalty, which by extension, would mean Romney didn't institute his own substantial tax hike with a similar plan in Massachusetts.

Fehrnstrom told Chuck Todd that Romney agrees with Justice Antonin Scalia and the other dissenters, who would have invalidated the law as an unconstitutional penalty.

Democrats have gleefully pointed out the "pickle" that Romney is in, but Republicans will reportedly keep calling it a tax, even if it means disagreeing with the top of the ticket.

Long served as a legal adviser to Romney's campaign in 2007 and 2008, and has served since 2011 this cycle. A spokesman confirmed that she is still a legal adviser, while also running as a candidate. As former counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, Long advocated for the confirmation of Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, who dissented from Roberts' decision to uphold the law.

Long's release mentioned the assignment of more IRS agents as one reason to consider it a tax, and she promised to press for repeal if elected in November.

"Chief Justice Roberts concluded the Supreme Court’s decision with a disclaimer: 'The Court does not express any opinion on the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act.'  I will," she says in the release. "It is nothing short of a devastating assault on our economy, our national debt, American health care, and New York jobs. If you give me the honor of representing you, I will fight to repeal Obamacare and replace it with sensible health-reform legislation—the kind that does not bankrupt our taxpayers and job creators."