In visit to SLO, Karl Rove casts doubt on constitutionality of new health care law

Tribune photo by Joe Johnston

There is justification to bring lawsuits against the federal government to keep the landmark health care legislation from becoming law, said Karl Rove, deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush.

The health plan would require most Americans to have insurance, with the threat of penalties if they don’t, which is what Rove found objectionable. He offered his comments to reporters Saturday at the Madonna Expo Center before he was featured at a local Republican event.

“It is a serious constitutional question about individual mandates and the government requiring everyone to pay for health insurance,” Rove said.

The House of Representatives passed the health care legislation last weekend, despite every Republican voting against it.

The Republican Party will work to keep winning public opinion as the November election approaches, said the 60-year-old Rove, who is widely admired within the GOP for helping Bush win the presidency, but who is also despised by many Democrats for his role in guiding the nation into the Iraq war.

Rove is optimistic about GOP chances because “the American people see through the cost of the health care reform.” He said that President Obama’s goals, even before health care passed, would have added significantly to the national debt.

To the crowd of 400, Rove promoted his new book, “Courage and Consequence, My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” in which he wrote about what he “truly saw” during his time at the White House.

The Republican Party of San Luis Obispo County sponsored the event in celebration of Lincoln-Reagan Day, which honors two of the GOP’s most revered presidents. Attendees could purchase raffle tickets with the hopes of winning a bronze bust of Reagan.

All ticket purchases for the event included a signed copy of Rove’s book. Attendees had the option of purchasing a $100 ticket, or a $1,500 ticket, which gave them access to the VIP dinner and a photo with Rove. Those seated at Rove’s table during the VIP dinner also had a photo taken with him and paid $2,500.

Proceeds went to the local Republican Party.

As often occurs at events where Rove is featured, protesters stood at the entrance to the Madonna Inn property in a designated “free speech zone.” One protester held a sign that read, “I have a dream,” above an illustration of Rove being arrested.

Anne McGlynn, 68, of San Luis Obispo is a member of Code Pink, a women’s antiwar group.

“I feel strongly about calling attention to people who seriously misbehave. It’s a disservice to the country if we don’t,” McGlynn said. “We have inherited this war and are paying for it daily, and future generations will continue to pay for it.”