Karl Rove and Sen. Mike Lee are going head-to-head over Obamacare and calls from within the GOP to defund it or shut down the government.
The two debated Monday on Sean Hannity's radio program.
Lee and other tea party members of Congress have vowed to defeat any federal spending bill
that contains money for the Affordable Care Act.
"The best way to delay is to defund," the Utah senator said. "We've got to fight on every single front we have."
For his part, Rove believes a government shutdown would be blamed on the GOP and would hurt Republicans in next year's midterm elections.
Lee, however, said the plan is to shift responsibility for a shutdown to the Democrats. The GOP-controlled House could pass a continuing resolution funding government beyond Sept. 30, but with a rider from Georgia Rep. Tom Graves to defund Obamacare. That, he said, would shift the government-shutdown decision to Senate Democrats.
"Would they choose to shut down government? Or do the right thing?" Lee asked Rove.
Rove countered that there is no way Senate Democrats would vote for a bill that defunds the health care reform law.
"It counts on the Democrats, when the House sends over a bill, caving," he said of the Lee plan. "And what evidence do we have that they will?"
He suggested that the Senate instead would strip the bill of the Obamacare rider and send it back to the House before the Sept. 30 deadline.
"This just assumes that the Democrats are going to be scared of a shutdown. They aren't," Rove said. "This is the one strategy, the one tactic that might be able to guarantee that the Democrats pick up seats in the Congress in 2014."
A better way to delay Obamacare, Rove said, would be to build support in the Senate for delaying by a year the law's individual mandate that requires everyone to have health care coverage. The White House already has delayed the employer mandate
Rove argued that GOP lawmakers would fare better with voters by continuing to oppose Obamacare without threatening a government shutdown, then wait for a Republican president who could help repeal or defund the law.
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