After Losing Shutdown Fight, Republicans Fight Each Other

After suffering a humiliating loss over the government shutdown, Republican politicians have now turned their sights on each other as they argue about who is at fault.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) helped lead the effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," which led to the government shutdown. In a Wednesday interview, he said the Republican's failure was the fault of the "Washington establishment" and his fellow Republican senators.

"I would point out that had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome of this I believe would've been very, very different," he said.

Fellow Tea Party Republican Sarah Palin implied on her Facebook page that she would back primary challenges to some of the Republicans who voted for the bill that ended the shutdown.

"Friends," she wrote, "do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.'s permanent political class today. Be energized. We're going to shake things up in 2014. Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let's start with Kentucky – which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi – from sea to shining sea we will not give up."

While some Republicans believe that Cruz's goal failed because the shutdown should have lasted longer, until the Democrats caved, others argued Cruz's goal was doomed to fail from the start.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of those Palin implied she would like to target, suggested that Cruz overreached in attempting to defund the ACA, and his actions have not been beneficial for the country as a whole.

When asked Tuesday by a reporter about Cruz, Graham answered: "I would just say to any member of the Congress now, what is your oath? What is your reason for being here? Are you going to stop our ability to reopen the government forever and to honor our obligations come the 17th? I can understand fighting for your cause, but there comes a point when you have an obligation to your country as the whole."

Graham also recalled the lessons he learned as a member of the U.S. House during the previous government shutdown: "It's not like I haven't been in a position where I was really fired up to change things. I understand that. But at the end of the day, I've learned something since 1995. Fight for your cause – but understand the American people are intrinsically fair minded, and they see in our approach an overreach."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly recalled 1995 and argued that shutting down the government is not a winning strategy for Republicans.

"There's no education in the second kick of a mule," he quipped, in an interview with The Hill. "The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990's and the second kick was over the last 16 days. ... There will not be [another] government shutdown. I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is."

Louisiana Governor and possible 2016 presidential contender Bobby Jindal (R), meanwhile, has announced an effort, called "America Next," to recover his party's image. Jindal famously called his party the "stupid party" after the 2012 elections. While he has avoided similar belligerent rhetoric during the shutdown, Jindal has offered some critiques of Republican strategies.

Republicans need to stop simply opposing Obama's agenda without offering an alternative agenda, he complained in a Wednesday interview with Politico.

"Saying 'no' is not enough," he said. "We've got to get beyond the bumper-sticker slogans. We've got to get beyond the 30-second attack ads. ... There's a void, and there's an opportunity to offer specific conservative ideas on the most important issues of the day."

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