Some Republicans are so opposed to a hard-leaning conservative in the White House that they'd sooner vote Democrat in 2016, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus, tells Newsmax TV.
But there's only way the GOP can win the upcoming presidential race — and that's to run a staunch conservative, the Kansas Republican insists.
Huelskamp made the dramatic charges Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show," after Rep. Peter King of New York said in a Facebook post that Sen. Ted Cruz, the first Republican to declare for 2016, would be a better carnival barker than president.
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"I'm not sure who's orchestrating what, but there is an establishment in Washington. The last thing they want is a conservative in the White House. Many of them would take a Democrat over a conservative Republican," Huelskamp said.
"I'm not saying that's Peter King's position, but at the end of the day, the only way we win the White House will be as a conservative, not as a Mitt Romney-like moderate. That hasn't worked. That's John McCain and Mitt Romney.
"We have to talk about what we're for and talk about what our vision is for the future of this nation"
He said the Republican Party must zero in on a candidate who people are "ready and willing" to follow.
"Someone who can talk about big ideas and big ideas that work. And their conservative ideas, ideals, and principles," Huelskamp said.
"I'm pretty excited by Sen. Cruz and other conservatives looking at the race, but the reason we can win in 2016 is by focusing on conservative principles, and that's what Ted talks about …
"Instead of talking about little things, let's talk about big things, and if Republicans are going to have the White House in 2017, it'll be about big visions, big principles. And it's good to see Sen. Cruz talking about those."
Huelskamp was jolted when the American Action Network, a nonprofit aligned with GOP leadership — ran scathing attack ads against him and other congressmen who opposed fully funding the Department of Homeland Security.
"It's unprecedented for a sitting speaker of the House. It's an affiliated group, tied closely to House Speaker John Boehner as well as other establishment figures in Washington, D.C. This shows how tenuous their power is," he said.
"It's a good sign that conservatives are making a difference in Washington, D.C. We're exposing the cases and the times and the ways in which the Republican establishment is not following Republican principles.
"But to engage outsiders to hire folks to run attack ads is stunning and unprecedented. The Democrats don't do that to each other."
Huelskamp said he wants to see conservative Republicans get tougher in Congress.
"We ought to push forward, repeal Obamacare, push forward with some fundamental tax reform, and push forward with how we're actually going to save money rather than spend money," he said.
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