Rick Perry: Implementing Obamacare "a Criminal Act"

Rick Perry: Implementing Obamacare "a Criminal Act"

By Scott Conroy - October 2, 2013

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. -- In a campaign appearance Tuesday on behalf of New Jersey Republican Senate nominee Steve Lonegan, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the government's implementation of the national health care reform law constituted "a criminal act."

"If this health care law is forced upon this country, the young men and women in this audience are the ones who are really going to pay the price," Perry said to a small crowd outside the Bendix Diner in this New York City suburb. “And that, I will suggest to you, reaches to the point of being a felony toward them and their future. That is a criminal act, from my perspective, to put that type of burden on them, to mortgage their future like that. America cannot stand that. America cannot accept that.”

Perry’s provocative comment came on the same day that state-based insurance exchanges, created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, opened for enrollment.

The 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who has said that he will consider launching a second White House bid in 2016, campaigned alongside Lonegan at three events Tuesday.

There are just two weeks left until the special Senate election, which was called after longtime New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg died in office earlier this year.

According to the latest RealClearPolitics polling average, Newark Mayor Cory Booker leads Lonegan by a comfortable 17.5 percentage points.

New Jersey’s popular Republican governor, Chris Christie, has endorsed Lonegan but has declined to campaign with the former mayor of Bogota (a borough in Bergen County). A likely 2016 presidential hopeful himself, Christie is aiming to win re-election next month by a significant margin.

A libertarian-leaning conservative bearing Tea Party credentials that he wears on his sleeve, Lonegan’s strategy for pulling off a major upset rests upon his ability to activate the state’s Republican base in what is expected to be a low-turnout election.

Lonegan first appeared outside the diner shortly after 5 p.m., shaking hands with supporters as the PA system played the slow portion of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

About a half-hour later, Perry arrived. He posed for photos and chatted with well-wishers inside the eatery.

When the event finally kicked off in earnest a few minutes later, Lonegan offered a hard-line take on a range of issues. He touted his pro-life credentials, condemned the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, and criticizing the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies.

Projecting optimism about his chances in the Senate race, Lonegan urged the crowd to pay attention to Sean Hannity’s assessment of recent polling (the Fox News host sees the race as closer than is otherwise believed).

“All eyes of the country will be on New Jersey on October 16,” Lonegan said. “This is a referendum on everything this administration is doing to you. What it’s doing to your health care, what it’s doing to the future of this country. And a win will be the shot heard around the world.”

Further downstate at a town-hall meeting in Bayville earlier in the day, the GOP candidate criticized Booker for his frequent out-of-state travel, calling him “the Hollywood stand-in for Barack Obama on the ballot.”

Throughout the day, the Garden State Republican downplayed the impact of the federal government shutdown, noting that local services were still provided and that the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended in positive territory on Tuesday.

He urged congressional Republicans not to back down from their budgetary standoff with the White House and Democratic Senate.

“Here’s what I’m calling on my Republican allies in Washington to do: Hold the line,” Lonegan said. “Hold that line until Oct. 16 when we win this U.S. Senate seat.”

Flanked by campaign signs that called him a “Jersey conservative,” Lonegan projected a mad-as-Hell tone as he decried high taxes and government intrusion.

“I believe that it’s the role of government to defend us against our enemies -- not to invade our privacy, not to spy on us, our friends and our neighbors,” he said as Perry sat beside him and applauded. “My opponent, Cory Booker, supports the NSA invasion of your privacy and the IRS abuse of power.”

Perry is the nation’s longest-serving governor and is planning to retire after the 2014 election. The Texan appeared relaxed and in good spirits as he joked about his memorable mishaps on the 2012 presidential campaign trail and gave Lonegan a full-throated endorsement.

“I’m in this state today because I believe in this man,” Perry said. “I believe in his vision for America -- an America that is strong again economically, strong again militarily, expressing our true and pure vision about freedom around the world.”

Referring to a negative TV ad that the Booker campaign launched on Tuesday, which tied Lonegan to the government shutdown and referred to the Republican nominee as “too extreme,” Perry said that the tactic revealed nervousness on the front-runner’s part.

“This thing has tightened up to the point of, I promise you, all those negative ads they’ve probably started to run on him is because they’re seeing what the polls are saying,” Perry said. “This thing is within the margin of error. We’re gonna win this thing.” 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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