ORLANDO, Fla. -- CPAC assembled a newsy trio of Florida conservatives for an update on the state's lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Bill McCollum, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos. McCollum originated the lawsuit, soon joined by states with Republican AGs, against the bill; Bondi replaced him. McCollum was able to go further from the reservation. The suit was first fired in Pinellas, he said, "because they had judges that were appointed only by Bush and Reagan."
He wasn't too optimistic that a ruling against the individual mandate would strike down the whole bill. It would just make it unworkable. "We went straight to the guts of the bill," he said. "Even if we didn't strike the whole thing, we'd force Congress back to work."
Bondi, a Sarah Palin endorsee and rising star, worked harder to rev up the crowd.
"We don't teach the Constitution in our schools anymore," she said. "If the mandate can force us to do this [the health care mandate] just for being alive, it can do anything." Pre-emptively, she said the lawsuit was modest, non-political. "We're not re-litigating the constitutional battles of the 1930s," she said. "We're only saying that this is too much." And then she asked the crowd to support Republicans that could win the U.S. Senate in 2012. So, sort of political.
Haridopolos, a star who ended up shuttering a Senate bid in the surprisingly low-key GOP primary, made the kind of comment we're paying more attention to as doubts rise about Rick Perry. "It's so exciting to hear someone like Gov. Romney say he'll sign an executive order letting every state opt out," said Haridopolos. The author of "Romneycare," for him, was doing what it took to liberate the country. No worries.