(CNN) - Mitt Romney said the federal health care reform mandate constitutes a "tax" Wednesday, contradicting the way a senior adviser to his campaign characterized his position earlier this week.
But the similar individual mandate and fee he signed into law when governor of Massachusetts is not a tax, he said in a separate interview, citing the Supreme Court's decision last Thursday.
Of the federal law, Romney told CNN's Dana Bash and Shawna Shepherd, "Supreme Court is the final word, right? The highest court in the land? They said it's a tax didn't they?"
"So it's a tax, of course, if that's what they say it is," he continued.
Romney had first commented on the federal law in a CBS News interview Wednesday.
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The high court last Thursday upheld the law's individual mandate – which requires individuals who can afford it to obtain coverage, or otherwise pay a fee collected by the Internal Revenue Service - under Congress' taxation power.
But it allowed states have broader powers, which Romney cited as the reason the Massachusetts fee is not a tax.
"States can implement penalties and mandates and so forth under their constitutions, which is what Massachusetts did," he said in the CBS interview. "But the federal government does not have those powers, and therefore for the Supreme Court to reach the conclusion it did – that the law was constitutional – they had to find it was a tax, and they did."
The Massachusetts law has been compared by some Republicans and Democrats alike to the federal law, but Romney has repeatedly rejected similarities. Romney has argued his law was a "state solution to a state problem" and has maintained he would move to repeal the federal law if elected president.
Eric Fehrnstrom, the senior adviser to Romney's campaign, said in a Monday interview that Romney thought the fee that will be generated by the federal law was not a tax despite the Supreme Court's ruling.
"He agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax," Fehrnstrom said on MSNBC. And, when further questioned as to whether Romney agreed with Democrats, who have argued the mandate is not a tax, Fehrnstrom said "correct."
In the CBS News interview, Romney affirmed that he agreed with the dissent - the minority opinion of the high court – regarding the validity of President Obama's health care law but accepted that the majority opinion was law.
"I said that I agreed with the dissent and the dissent made it very clear that they felt it was unconstitutional. But the dissent lost," Romney said. "It's in the minority. And so now the Supreme Court has spoken, and while I agreed with dissent, it's taken over by the fact that the majority of the court said that it's a tax and therefore it is a tax."
Acknowledging the individual mandate as a tax also gave Romney an opportunity to criticize Obama over the law. This is the line of criticism most Republicans have taken since the ruling. Obama had said while campaigning that the mandate would not raise taxes.
"And the American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made," Romney said in the CBS interview. "He said he wouldn't raise taxes on middle income Americans."
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama's reelection campaign, suggested in a tweet that Romney's different positions on the Massachusetts and federal laws were contradictory.
"Mitt: Fed freerider penalty is 'tax,' identical MA law is not. If he were in WH, parsley would be official veg: Twister, national pasttime," he posted.
In March, Fehrnstrom made headlines for saying in a CNN interview that the transition from the primaries to the general election was "almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."
Romney's Republican rivals seized on the remark, suggesting that voters could not trust Romney not to change his views as November approached.
Later that day, Romney stepped before the microphones to clarify his campaign's position.
"Organizationally, a general election campaign takes on a different profile," Romney said. "The issues I am running on will be exactly the same. I am running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican nominee, at that point hopefully, for president. The policies and positions are the same."
Earlier this week, GOP backer and Newscorp head Rupert Murdoch said in a tweet that Romney's staff could use some retooling.
"Tough O[bama] Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros," Murdoch tweeted on Sunday.
Former GE CEO Jack Welch followed Murdoch's tweet with one of his own on Monday, saying he hoped "Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice [on] campaign staff..playing in league with Chicago pols..No room for amateurs."
- CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report