Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz reportedly faced tough questions Wednesday from fellow GOP senators who criticized him for helping prompt a government shutdown without having an exit strategy.
At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, the Republicans asked Cruz to explain how he'd end the budget impasse with Democrats, Politico
reported, quoting senators who attended the gathering.
They said Cruz had no clear plan — and didn't explain how he'd defund the Affordable Care Act, Politico reported.
When asked if he would renounce attacks waged on GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself with Cruz, he bluntly replied: "I will not," one source said.
"It seems there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes," Cruz told Politico.
"Regardless, my focus — and, I would hope, the focus of the rest of the conference — is on stopping Harry Reid's shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans."
Politico reported a number of Republican senators privately blame the Texas freshman for putting the party in the center of the shutdown controversy.
"It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy — he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was," said one senator who attended the meeting. "I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch."
One source told Politico Cruz has muscled his way into the center of attention.
"It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy — it’s been about him," the source said. "That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice."
Many Senate Republicans publicly and privately scoffed at the Cruz tactics, arguing he was making a false and politically damaging promise that he could use the funding bill to gut Obamacare, Politico said.
"The entire effort has been totally disingenuous," the source said.
But a spokeswoman for the Senate Conservatives Fund rejected the criticism.
"If these senators had pledged to oppose funding for Obamacare, we wouldn’t have had to run ads against them," said Executive Director Matt Hoskins. "They only have themselves to blame."
Meanwhile, New York Rep. Peter King — one of the strongest GOP voices against Cruz's anti-Obamacare fight — continued the critique Wednesday night.
, King told Anderson Cooper that despite how much Cruz may view himself as a conservative "folk hero" the majority of the country is rallying behind, "those I’ve spoken to think he’s crazy."
King likened this to the Charge of the Light Brigade and said Cruz is a "kamikaze pilot," ultimately finding his tactics to be destructive to the Republican party. He called Cruz a "medicine man selling goods he knows are phony goods."
Asked why he was being so critical of a fellow Republican, King said Cruz was trying to intimidate Republican members of Congress in the past few months to vote his way "with explicit threats of primaries."
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