Sen. Johanns: Presidential Hopefuls Playing Politics With Obamacare Plan

Thursday, 12 Sep 2013 03:52 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A handful of Republicans with presidential ambitions are boosting their own profiles while pushing for an "unrealistic" solution to defunding Obamacare, conservative Sen. Mike Johanns said Wednesday.

GOP Sens. Marco Rubio, Florida; Ted Cruz, Texas; and Rand Paul, Kentucky, all considered likely presidential candidates in 2016, back a call by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee for Congress to stop legislation funding the government past the end of this month unless it defunds or delays Obamacare.

The plan, Johanns told The Hill, "burst them to a national profile," and while he thinks it was "good for their presidential ambitions...it's not a realistic plan."



But the risky tactic did have one good effect for the senators, Johanns said.

"I'm pretty sure their emails got built [up]," he said.

However, Lee's strategy could end up in a government shutdown that could hurt the Republican Party, even if it did help boost its proponents' public profile, said Johanns.

"They had a lot of talkers on radio, etc., talking about it," he said. "My feeling is we just need to be honest with people. This has zero chance of being successful."

Johanns is not the only Republican speaking out against the tactic.

"In the words of [conservative columnist] Charles Krauthammer, it’s a suicide note," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. "Until we have 67 votes in the Senate, we’re not going to be able to defund Obamacare," referring to the number of votes necessary to overcome a presidential veto.

But Rubio said Wednesday that Obamacare is the biggest issue facing Congress, and "if there’s one issue that we should be willing to take to the limit, it’s this one. It’s that bad for the country."

Defunding the health insurance law is causing a great deal of argument within the party, with conservative groups targeting lawmakers for not fighting Obamacare's implementation.

The Senate Conservatives Fund has spent around $340,000 targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is running a heated re-election battle in Kentucky, for not doing more to stop Obamacare.

The effort has left Paul in a tough place. He is an ally of McConnell, whose Republican challenger in that race, Matt Bevin, has slammed he minority leader on Obamacare.

In addition, the group spent another $230,000 targeting Sens. Jeff Flake, Arizona; Thad Cochran, Mississippi; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; Johnny Isakson, Georgia; Richard Burr, North Carolina; and Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee.







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