The Huffington Post unearths some remarks from Mitt Romney on the individual mandate in 2008 during a debate (emphasis mine):
GIBSON: But Government Romney’s system has mandates in Massachusetts, although you backed away from mandates on a national basis.
ROMNEY: No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.
THOMPSON: I beg your pardon? I didn’t know you were going to admit that. You like mandates.
ROMNEY: Let me — let me — oh, absolutely. Let me tell you what kind of mandates I like, Fred, which is this. If it weren’t…
THOMPSON: The ones you come up with.
ROMNEY: Here’s my view: If somebody — if somebody can afford insurance and decides not to buy it, and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own way, as opposed to expect the government to pay their way.
However, later on in the same debate, Romney said he wouldn’t force other states to mandate health insurance coverage:
GIBSON: Let me just — one point. Yes or no, in your national plan, would you mandate people to get insurance?
ROMNEY: I think my plan is a good plan that should be adopted by other states. I wouldn’t tell every state…
GIBSON: In your plan, would you mandate…
ROMNEY: I would not mandate at the federal level that every state do what we do. But what I would say at the federal level is, “We’ll keep giving you these special payments we make if you adopt plans that get everybody insured.” I want to get everybody insured.