On Tuesday, ThinkProgress Health reported on Tim Pawlenty’s past flirtation with enacting universal coverage by mandating insurance, expanding Medicaid, and reforming the health care system. During a November 11, 2006 health care forum, Pawlenty — fresh off a close election victory for his second term — said his administration has been “studying very diligently the Massachusetts model about how that would apply to Minnesota” and pledged to “move in stages” toward “universal coverage.” “Everyone should be in a health plan of some sort…but I think as a goal we should start with covering all kids,” he said.
Yesterday, the other potential presidential candidate from Minnesota — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) — criticized Pawlenty for his 2006 remarks:
“I think it will concern the voters,” she told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. [...] Bachmann said that it’s important to have candidates who have been consistent on issues like healthcare reform, saying she has been consistent in opposing President Obama’s healthcare law.
“We need to have people who have enough foresight and common sense to know these programs aren’t going to work. I’m that kind of person,” she said.
Pawlenty is certainly not the only GOP primary candidate who is taking heat for supporting the mandate. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman have all advocated that individuals take personal responsibility for their health care costs and are now paying a price with conservative leaders. Yesterday, for instance, both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin criticized Romney for enacting universal health care reform in Massachusetts.
The growing conservative frustration with all of the GOP frontrunners suggests that Pawlenty’s adage is true — “Everyone has some clunkers in their record.” Whether or not conservative voters will stand for them, remains to be seen.