Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) on Tuesday seemed to pivot away from his defund Obamacare effort’s fiery rhetoric, instead calling on conservatives to move in the direction of “optimism.”
“Especially in the wake of recent controversies, many conservatives are more frustrated with the establishment than ever before. And we have every reason to be,” Lee said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, according to his prepared remarks. “But however justified, frustration is not a platform. Anger is not an agenda. And outrage, as a habit, is not even conservative.”
Instead, he said, conservatism is “about gratitude, and cooperation, and trust, and above all hope.”
Lee previously said he makes “no apologies” for championing the effort to tie defunding Obamacare to government funding negotiations, which created a rift between the party’s more extreme members and moderates. In the shutdown’s immediate aftermath, the senator found himself facing backlash in Utah while polls showed him slipping in popularity.
But in his speech, the Utah Republican pushed back against the notion that his effort to derail the health care law harmed the GOP.
“Too many in Washington seem to believe that on any issue, Republicans should either have one plan — one that everyone supports in lockstep — or no plans,” he said in his remarks. “But unity cannot come at the expense of creativity.”
[h/t Garance Franke-Ruta]