State Sen. Rucho's tweet comparing Obamacare to America’s wars sparks controversy

cwootson@charlotteobserver.comDecember 15, 2013 

LEGISLATE5NE072513CEL

Sen. Bob Rucho (R) listens to a question about his Voter ID bill during session Thursday July 25, 2013 in Raleigh, N.C.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

A tweet by Matthews Sen. Bob Rucho comparing Obamacare to the toll of America’s wars set off a firestorm on the social networking website on Sunday.

Around 8 a.m., Rucho’s account tweeted: “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.” (U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.)

Rucho did not return a message left on his cell phone on Sunday.

By then, more than 90 people had re-tweeted his post. But others called the tweet offensive.

“The systematic murder of 11 million human beings, among them 6 million Jews ... and acts of terrorists using explosives to indiscriminately decimate the lives of men, women and children can in no way be compared to legislation aimed at expanding health care accessibility and quality insurance for the poor,” said Rabbi Judy Schindler of Charlotte’s Temple Beth El. “Comparing the two is deeply offensive."

The tweet also received a litany of angry responses on Twitter, including some who said Rucho should step down.

“You’re a disgrace and an embarrassment to public office. You should resign immediately," penned Twitter user @BettyJeanRoss.

Twitter user @TravisFain wrote, simply: "Don’t tweet about Nazis. Don't. Tweet. About. Nazis."

In a later tweet, Rucho indicated that he was talking about the power of words.

“Those that tweeted, put your thinking caps back on: "The PEN is mightier than the SWORD." Edward Bulwar-Lytton, 1839. But surely you knew that.”

A later tweet on Rucho's account retreated to more neutral ground, speaking positively of the Carolina Panthers’ victory Sunday over the New York Jets.

Sunday’s tweet was the second controversial tweet by Rucho in as many weeks.

In November, he commemorated President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Twitter this way:

“JFK could have been the founder and leader of the Tea Party. The real democrat party has been hijacked.”

Rucho is the primary sponsor or a bill that transferred control of Charlotte’s airport from the city to a regional commission.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson

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