Health Care Reform Rift Inspires Call for Constitutional Convention

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Tea Party activists are not the only ones fired up, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer announcing he is calling for a constitutional convention. Why? Well, let's ask him. Lieutenant Governor Bauer joins us live. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, so you...

BAUER: Well, we feel like...


BAUER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

VAN SUSTEREN: I said you're calling for a constitutional convention, so tell me why and how you're doing that.

BAUER: Well, we -- the people I talk to in South Carolina feel like the administration is running roughshod over individual rights and personal liberties that Americans have come to expect, and we want them back, quite frankly.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of how you're going about doing this, what steps have you taken?

BAUER: Well, I've actually been calling legislators throughout the country, talked to several lieutenant governors, and I've mailed letters out to the vast majority of legislatures throughout the United States, asking them to join us. It would it take 34 states to actually have a constitutional convention, and 38 states to ratify it if we move forward in doing so.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has any state or any other lieutenant governor or governor or even attorney general said, Look, sign me up?

BAUER: I actually talked to David Dewhurst in Texas yesterday. He was excited about it. Talked to Peter Kinder two days ago out in Missouri. He was excited about it. So the more people I talk to about it, they are going to go and talk to their legislature, as well. So we are moving forward. We only started work on this at the end of last week, getting our legislative counsel to go ahead and start drafting the convention. And so we're moving forward with this, and the momentum is growing.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the likelihood that you get your state's legislature to go along with this?

BAUER: Well, I think people know in South Carolina -- we're extremely conservative, and we realize that we have now watched what the federal government has done and we've moved towards socialism. And people are scared. They don't want it. We know that only 20 percent of the entire country wants it. So I feel very confident it'll pass in South Carolina and many other states, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but would you not agree that it's quite an uphill battle to get all those states to go along with you?

BAUER: Well, all those states -- we actually only need 34, Greta. But more than anything...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's a lot!

BAUER: ... this is an uphill battle that's worth fighting for.

VAN SUSTEREN: That isn't a lot to you? No, I understand...

BAUER: I'm sorry. What's that?

VAN SUSTEREN: I understand -- I understand your passion for it, but do you not agree that 34 states is an awful lot of states to try to collect?

BAUER: Sure, it is. But this is a battle that -- I sure don't want to give up on this battle. What we're losing is one sixth of the economy was socialized last week! I mean, this is a battle -- I can't think of a battle more important than stopping what's happening in Washington right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your reaction to the lawsuits filed in Florida, a number of attorney generals from around the country? I think 13, have joined into this lawsuit. Do you think that lawsuit has any merit at all?

BAUER: Actually, even my state's attorney general has joined in the fight, and I commend him for it. But I'm told by most constitutional scholars that this, in fact, will not work, that this will not be able to stop what happened last week. And I am told this is the only way that we can prevent this from moving forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the reaction of your, Governor Sanford, to this?

BAUER: I actually haven't had the opportunity to speak to the governor. As you know, I'm actually in Tennessee tonight, visiting someone in the hospital. But I hope to talk to the governor next week.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has the governor said in recent days whether or not -- was he encouraging to you or is he -- I mean, there's no secret that he's had a rather rough, to put it politely, last year. Is he -- is he still an active governor and being very involved in decisions, or has he turned some of that over to you?

BAUER: No, I think everybody knows our governor is adamantly opposed to the growth of the federal government, and I think he'll be joined in taking on this fight. He actually some time back was still fighting this battle of trying to reduce the overwhelming reach of the federal government, and so this is one more fight I think he'll be right there fighting it as hard as he can until his last days in office.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, to get this started, I understand you wrote a letter to the -- to your assembly, is that correct, to your legislature?

BAUER: That is correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: When did you send that letter out?

BAUER: That letter was sent out on Friday.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, in the letter, you talked about -- you talked about the lawsuits that we just spoke about a minute ago, and you say in the letter you don't think the lawsuits will be successful. You talk about repeal (INAUDIBLE) and you call -- you say while it's noble, what do you say about the possibility or likelihood that the statute will be repealed instead of going the route that you're suggesting?

BAUER: Well, I have talked to several of our -- we have legal counsel in South Carolina, and I've called them and tried to get a better understanding of if we could move forward with the lawsuits, and I'm told that they will not work and that this is our only possibility of stopping this. I actually have had the bill drafted in both the house and the senate in South Carolina. And so I've got legislators on both sides in both chambers willing to take on this battle. But again, I'm told from a legal standpoint, it would be very difficult to have positive results from that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is your objection to the health care bill a political, philosophical one, in terms of the role of the federal government involved in states, or is it one in terms of what kind of costs it'll impose on people of South Carolina or whether it would be effective in achieving the goal that it set out for?

BAUER: It's both of them. Number one, the federal government shouldn't be involved in health care in the first place. Number two, I'm a free market individual. I don't think the government ought to be involved in this. It shouldn't be mandating who has health coverage. We are way overstepping what our Founding Fathers ever dreamed of. And what we're doing is discouraging innovation and anybody from opening a new business.

Just today, I had people say, I pay for my own company's health care, and now I'm going to be penalized for doing so. This is discouraging anybody from wanting to grow or open a business.

VAN SUSTEREN: If there were a constitutional convention, if you could gather all those state legislatures to agree and call for a constitutional convention, what would you envision it as being? Where would it be? How would it unfold?

BAUER: Well, I don't -- I would rather not have it in Washington, quite frankly, because Washington is tainted already. But what it would be is it would be chosen -- each state legislature would choose. They would choose individuals that, again, were against this health care bill, which is the vast majority of Americans. They would meet in a setting and come together, and this would be a limited purpose convention for solely doing away with the health care bill that was passed last week.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's -- you know, it's an interesting concept, but I tell you, I think you got an uphill battle trying to find -- I think you have a better shot at -- if you want to get the health care bill thrown out, I think you have a better shot in court. But who can predict. And you've already sort of got some traction in Texas, and you've still got to move your own state. So of course, we'll be watching it very carefully. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor...

BAUER: Hey, in South Carolina, we're used to tough battles. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know you are. And we'll be watching all the way. Thank you -- thank you, sir.

BAUER: Thank you.

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