Quit Whining: Cornyn Pushes Back On Bennett’s Tea Party Criticisms

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NRSC Chairman John Cornyn disagrees with his colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) that the rise of the Tea Party is bad news for Republicans this election cycle. Late last week, Bennett made waves by declaring, among other things, that the Tea Party will allow Harry Reid to save his Nevada Senate seat. Cornyn responded yesterday by speculating that Bennett’s recent defeat at the Utah Republican convention.

“I disagree with that,” Cornyn told TPMDC. “I respect Sen. Bennett a lot. He’s been through a tough experience because of the unusual selection process in his state and that may have had some impact on his views.”“This is going to be a referendum on the Obama administration and Harry Reid’s performance in office,” Cornyn added. “I realize we’re hot and heavy leading up to the election, but the voters are going to make the right decision. There have been 30 published polls in this election cycle and Harry Reid’s been trailing in every single one of them.”

Bennett couldn’t disagree more. “With the tea party creating the mischief that it is in Colorado, we may not win that seat. My sources in Nevada say with Sharron Angle there’s no way Harry Reid loses in Nevada,” he told the AP Friday. “Rand Paul — that’s a seat we could lose in Kentucky, but McConnell seems to be helping stabilize Rand Paul and pulling back from some of his more dangerous statements.”

Whether that’s bitter grapes or candor from a senator who was just forced into retirement, it’s not useful for Cornyn.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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