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Patrick says tea party loses him over Obama doubts

Glen Johnson

Gov. Deval Patrick said Friday he supports tea party ideals such as personal liberty and responsibility, but the grassroots political movement loses his support when it challenges the citizenship of President Barack Obama.

Patrick is like Obama, in that they are not only Democrats, but the first African Americans to hold their respective offices. They also are friends and fellow Chicagoans.

The tea party movement was scheduled to hold a major rally in Boston on Wednesday, headlined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Some tea partiers, who have opposed Obama’s health care overhaul and helped Republican Scott Brown stage a Senate victory, question whether Obama is Kenyan, like his father, or from Indonesia, where he lived as a child.

Others suggest he did not graduate from Columbia University, despite records verifying his Hawaiian birth or college graduation.

“I think you want to celebrate any engagement, but some of it’s scary,” Patrick said during his monthly appearance on WTKK FM, one of his more extended, regular and unfiltered media events.

“Some of it feels like people have not quite made their peace with whom we chose as our president — not his policies, but the man. And that seems, to me, quite worrisome,” the governor added.

Patrick formally declared his candidacy for a second term last Saturday, and Obama endorsed his run during a fundraiser in Boston last week.

Meanwhile, Patrick said he still has not been convinced to support installing slot machines at the state’s four racetracks. The House takes up the bill next week.

Patrick said creating “racinos” will not guarantee the state the long-term jobs or benefit packages it hopes to gain from expanded gambling at destination resort casinos.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat from Winthrop with two tracks in his district, has filed a bill that would allow up to 750 slots at each track, for a total of 3,000 machines.

“I understand his political problem; I’m not trying to be a jerk about it,” Patrick said of DeLeo. “But I do think this is the kind of decision that is important enough, you’ve got to do it the right way.”

The governor also said he wants the state to evaluate its health insurance mandates to see if residents are being forced to buy coverage they don’t need, or if there’s enough incentive for good health.

One caller complained about paying for a series of mandates and, despite being in good health personally, having to pay premiums that are elevated by the cost of caring for people who are overweight or who smoke.

“I do think that we ought to re-examine the personal responsibility that has something to do with exorbitant health care costs, choices that people are making that are not healthy choices,” he said.

Mandates are a pivotal part of the national health care overhaul Obama recently signed into law. It was modeled on the 2006 Massachusetts law.

Associated Press