Coburn Rips McConnell for 'Leadership Vacuum'

Wednesday, 02 Oct 2013 05:29 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Republicans have a "leadership vacuum," and party leader Mitch McConnell has allowed the upper chamber to spin out of control, says his GOP colleague Tom Coburn.

The two-termer from Oklahoma not only chastised McConnell during a gathering of the Republican Steering Committee but also called out Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee for their aggressive fight to defund Obamacare, reports The Hill.

"He said to Cruz and Lee, 'Don’t pretend to be naïve. You know outside groups are using what you’re doing as ammo against your colleagues,'" a Republican who attended the meeting told The Hill.

The Obamacare fight and rhetoric coming from Lee and Cruz have been used in advertising to attack other Republicans, and McConnell is letting it happen, Coburn said.

"He said to McConnell, 'This has happened because there’s a leadership vacuum,'" the Republican source said.

Coburn refused comment about the meeting, but the lack-of-leadership accusations are claims he's made before, including in August on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, when he called Congress "the kindergarten in Washington."

“We really lack leadership and what we have is selfish desires for political power, rather than thoughtful consideration about what’s in the best interest of our country as a whole," he said at the time.

Another Republican senator, who spoke anonymously, said McConnell is too deferential to Lee and Cruz.

"What gets me is he’ll look at 46 [Republican] senators and say, 'What do Mike and Ted want to do?' What are we, chopped liver?" the senator complained. But he also said he's sorry for McConnell, who is facing a tough race for re-election in Kentucky against tea party-aligned Matt Bevin.

Many senators complain that Cruz, who has only been in the Senate since January, is leading the debate without having an endgame strategy.

Retiring Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska has suggested Cruz is driven by presidential ambitions in his Obamacare fight.

Related Articles:

Sen. Coburn: Cruz Strategy on Obamacare 'Not Realistic'

McConnell to Newsmax: Defunding Obamacare Not 'Waste of Time' for GOP

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