Pataki Calls RomneyCare ‘Unconstitutional,’ Joins Growing Conservative Opposition To Mass. Reform

askromneyFormer Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), who is heading up an effort to petition the government to “repeal and replace” the new health care law, took a shot at Mitt Romney today, telling a Connecticut newspaper that Massachusetts’ health care reform law contained an “unconstitutional” individual mandate:

Former New York Gov. George Pataki blasted the Bay State’s health care reform created under former Gov. Mitt Romney today, telling the Herald it’s “unconstitutional.” He also conceded that Romney is “probably the (Republican) front runner” in the 2012 presidential election.

“I think the idea of what they call an individual mandate … is not just wrong, in all likelihood it’s unconstitutional,” Pataki told the Herald in a telephone interview today […] Pataki, who would not rule out a 2012 presidential run, is kicking off his push to repeal health care reform at the Paul Revere park on Sunday. He’s started a non-profit called “” and plans to tour campaign hot spots like Iowa and California. “We want to mobilize people who understand our freedom is at risk again and we have to wake up and reclaim our government,” said Pataki. He’s pushing to rake in $15 million for the campaign along with millions of signatures from congressional districts to show politicians where the average American stands.

Pataki’s comments come as a growing number of conservatives are beginning to question Romney’s ability to successfully distance himself from national health care reform, given its similarities to the Massachusetts plan. Since President Obama signed the reform bill, Romney moved quickly to condemn the new law as an abuse of federal power, arguing that health care reform is a right reserved for the states. He has also defended the success of his own, very similar, proposal. Many conservatives, however, don’t believe that voters will make the distinction.

Early last month, The Club for Growth mocked Romney for calling his plan “the ultimate conservative plan” and the CATO Institute has now put together a video explaining the fundamental similarities between RomneyCare and ObamaCare.

The conservative American Spectator is also warning Republicans that a Romney presidential bid could undermine any effort to repeal the national law. “Romney would not be able to credibly campaign against the national health care law,” Phillip Klein wrote today on the AmSpecBlog. “And as a result, were he the Republican nominee, it would kill the movement to repeal ObamaCare.”

Romney himself may even agree with Pataki. He has repeatedly praised the individual mandate for insuring 98% of all Massachusetts residents, but has also argued that the measure violates the sovereignty of the states. “I think it’s unconstitutional on the 10th Amendment front,” he said last week.