Not long after it was clear that Ohio voters were going to reject Gov. John Kasich's (R) anti-collective-bargaining law last night, Republicans began referring to the outcome of a different Ohio ballot measure -- over a health-care mandate.
The Republican National Committee sent this email to reporters today:
"[M]ost telling of all was in the battleground state of Ohio where Ohioans voted down a state collective bargaining initiative but overwhelmingly voted to repudiate one of Obama’s signature first term policies in Obamacare."
The RNC is correct that the health-care referendum -- which won by a wider margin than the referendum on collective bargaining -- is a rebuke to the kind of individual mandate that President Obama signed into law in 2010.
But it also could be seen as a rebuke to the kind of individual mandate that Mitt Romney -- the odds-on favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination -- also signed into law in Massachusetts. Just take a look at the language of the Ohio ballot measure (which didn't directly refer to Obama or to the federal health law):
1. In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.
2. In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.
3. In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of healthcare or health insurance.
Romney has maintained that it would be "wrong" for the nation adopt Massachusetts' health-care law. "In the last campaign, I was asked, is this something that you would have the whole nation do?" he said at the last debate in Las Vegas. "And I said, no, this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation."
But back in 2007, he said it's "a good model for other states."
"Maybe not every state, but most," he stated on "Meet the Press" in Dec 2007.
Two weeks ago, Romney received scrutiny for failing to take a position on Ohio's collective-bargaining measure, after he stopped by a Ohio GOP phone bank in support of Kasich's law. Romney later said it backed it.
Tellingly, however, he never took a position on Ohio's individual-mandate referendum.
*** UPDATE *** The Washington Post's Greg Sargent has a similar piece on the Ohio individual-mandate referendum.