“We have to be for something, not just against something,” said Sally Bradshaw, a Florida Republican strategist who helped write a post-election road map for the party. “We have to give voters a sense of a hopeful future under GOP leadership. We have to embrace diversity in our party and see that as opportunity, not challenge. We’re just not there yet.”
Bradshaw credited the Republican National Committee for taking steps but said she was “a little discouraged” over the turmoil on Capitol Hill.
Senior Republicans warned against taking an absolutist view on destroying Obamacare out of simple math: Democrats control the Senate and White House.
“I don’t mind fighting, but there’s also a time to understand the limits of the fight,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how this ends.”
Led by newcomer Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and pushed by influential outside groups such as the Heritage Foundation, enough Republicans agreed to make Obamacare a target.
The goal kept moving, however, from defunding the law to delaying it to basically abandoning it as Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline approaches. House Republicans tried Tuesday to float a plan that would make small changes to the law, such as scrapping a tax on medical devices, but then retreated. By evening the plan had crumbled.
The political consequences seemed not lost on Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. He was with Cruz in demanding a budget showdown but has turned attention elsewhere. In a speech before Christian conservatives last week, Rubio didn’t mention health care, saying the “real crisis” was an erosion of the American Dream. On Tuesday, as senators signaled alarm over a new House budget proposal, Rubio sat in his seat preparing a speech about Iran and nuclear weapons.