The battle over Obamacare is heating up down in Florida, with the state's Tea Party activists and a Republican lawmaker now clashing over the use of violent anecdotes from the 19th century.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) precipitated the scuffle by scaling back his ardent opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform law last month, which opened up his state to the possibility of accepting some of the overhaul's most controversial measures.
Members of Florida's Tea Party faction were not pleased with Scott's change of heart. On Monday, Tea Party lawyer KrisAnne Hall and dozens of other conservative activists attended a meeting with state lawmakers, voicing their opinion that the move, supported by Republican lawmakers such as state Senate President Don Gaetz, would invite tyranny upon Florida. The impassioned proceeding -- described as a "horror show" by one state lawmaker -- allowed the Tea Party faction to air its argument that the state of Florida should simply nullify the law, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
Hall reportedly followed up with Gaetz after the meeting, outlining what she portrayed as the constitutional basis for nullifying Obamacare in an email. Gaetz responded in turn with an email of his own including an anecdote from Andrew Jackson, who had reportedly once encouraged his subordinates to "shoot" and "hang" supporters of nullification who were gathered outside his mansion. Hall posted the text of Gaetz's email on her website, accusing him of "intimidation." The email is below:
Thank you for your email and for your passionate views.
Like you, I believe Obamacare is unconstitutional and wrong-headed policy. I have consistently voted in the Florida Legislature for legislation that affirms our state's options, obligations and sovereignty under the United States Constitution. I am working every day to ensure the election of national candidates who will repeal and replace this extraordinarily bad policy.
As to nullification, I tend to favor the approach used by Florida's first Governor, Andrew Jackson:
It is said that one evening, while he was president, General Jackson was interrupted in his reading in his bedroom by an alarmed military aide who breathlessly reported, "Mr. President, the "nullifiers" are in front of the Executive Mansion with torches and guns. They are screaming that each state has the right to decide for itself which federal laws to follow. They threaten to burn us down if you will not agree with them."
Without lifting his head from his reading, Andrew Jackson said, "Shoot the first nullifier who touches the Flag. And hang the rest."
Chaplain, I have sworn an oath on my father's Bible before Almighty God to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States. And that's exactly what I intend to do. Count me with Andrew Jackson.
Senator Don Gaetz
While Hall appeared irate at Gaetz's suggestion, the Palm Beach Post followed up with the state Senate president, who maintained that he wasn't actually calling for the shooting or hanging of Tea Partiers.
“That’s just an old tale of what was said about what Andrew Jackson said," Gaetz tol the Post. "I simply sent it to her as a way to try to let her know that you can still be civil about these issues and you don’t have to be outraged about every single thing. You can disagree without being uncivil."