Politics

October 19, 2013

Debt, Obamacare defeats stir rancor among Republicans

In the midterm elections, the tea party movement plans to target those who voted for the budget deal.

By Laurie Kellman
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walk to the Senate floor on Wednesday to vote on a bill that raised the debt ceiling and reopened the federal government.

The Associated Press

Opponents of the tea party strategy to make “Obamacare” the centerpiece of the budget fight seethed over what they said was an exercise in self-destruction. Many clamored for Boehner and McConnell, the nation’s highest-ranking Republicans, to impose some discipline, pointing to polls that showed public approval of Congress plummeting to historic lows and that most Americans blamed Republicans for the government shutdown.

A Pew Research Center poll released this week showed public favorability for the tea party dropped to its lowest level since driving the Republican takeover of the House in the 2010 elections. An AP-Gfk poll showed that 70 percent now hold unfavorable views of the tea party.

And yet, House Republican leaders tried again and again to resolve the standoff the tea party’s way – by demanding limits on Obamacare in exchange for reopening the government – until they ran of options and accepted the bipartisan deal.

A losing strategy?

“When your strategy doesn’t work, or your tactic doesn’t work, you lose credibility in your conference,” said Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., referring to the tea partyers’ tactics. “Clearly the leadership followed certain members’ tactics, certain members’ strategies, and they proved not to be all that successful. So I would hope that we learn from the past.”

“I do believe the outside groups have really put us in this position,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., referring to the Heritage Foundation’s political campaign arm and other organizations demanding fealty to their ideology. Those groups “have worked in conjunction with members of Congress and with Tea Party groups pushing a strategy that was never going to work.”

Tea partyers hold a contrary view. Boehner, they say, solidified his standing as the GOP’s leader by holding the line against compromise as long as he did. And the standoff, they add, has increased their movement’s clout.

 

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