"Well you know it's nice that the Democrats have let us get it back on offense, Nicole, because as you know we've been taking a lot of punches here lately," he said.
Thune added that the problems with the rollout have given Republicans an opportunity to talk about "market-based" alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, and said that his party must be "thoughtful about" the issue.
"We need to talk about what we'd be for," Thune said.
The South Dakota Republican predicted that more Democrats will support the GOP's calls to delay the individual mandate, and said he's "grateful" that "we're talking about something else" other than the unpopular government shutdown.
"But you know, this is an issue that's going to be debated for a long time, it's gonna be debated going into next year," Thune said, before breaking into a smile.
"We're just all very grateful to the Democrats and the President that, you know, now that the shutdown is over, we're talking about something else."