Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney deserved some recent praise when he told a group of New Hampshire voters he takes climate change seriously.

“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.” [emphasis added]

This isn’t a common sentiment among Republicans, especially GOP candidates seeking national office, so it was a welcome development for Romney. Standards have obviously dropped considerably, but it arguably took some guts for him to tell Republican voters the truth and call for a reduction in emissions.

That was in June. Yesterday, back in New Hampshire, Romney decided to take a different tack.

“I think we may have made a mistake, we have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions. I don’t think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies.”

Oh, Mitt, you were doing so well.

As Brad Johnson explained, “There are, of course, many ways in which greenhouse emissions are pollutants ‘in the sense of harming our bodies’ — worsening and causing deadly heat waves, floods, storms, droughts, wildfires; exacerbating the effects of other air pollution like smog that cause asthma attacks and other respiratory distress; and encouraging the spread of parasites and disease.”

Indeed, when Romney was a governor, before one of his several metamorphoses, his administration explicitly warned against the “multiple health risks” of carbon pollution.

For Romney, who’s flip-flopped more often and on more issues than any American politician in a generation, this really isn’t helpful. He’s alread reversed himself on a cap-and-trade plan; now he was for regulating carbon emissions before he was against it.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.