A Republican congressman insisted Thursday that the GOP-led effort to strike the Affordable Care Act that led to the government shutdown and brought the United States dangerously close to default was not a lost cause, but he lamented the lack of party unity.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that, despite recent poll numbers showing the GOP’s popularity in the gutter, it’s too early to declare his party dead. According to Salmon, Republican Steve Lonegan’s showing in the New Jersey special Senate election and Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) prospects as a Senate candidate provide support for his point.
“Before we go writing the obituary for the Republican Party, point out a couple things,” Salmon told the panel. “Yesterday in the election in New Jersey, a tea party guy, nobody knows him, running against a very popular and nationally famous mayor, gets 44 percent of the vote in New Jersey — during the shutdown. Also, you look at the polls in Arkansas for the Senate, Tom Cotton, a very staunch conservative Republican, neck-and-neck with the incumbent.”
Unlike Salmon, Cotton actually voted for the bill to re-open the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7. Salmon was one of 144 House members, all Republicans, who voted against the bill.
The Arizona lawmaker predicted that Republicans will ultimately be vindicated in their repeated attempts to delay parts of the health care law.
“I’m still gonna make a prediction for you,” Salmon said. “President Obama will postpone major parts of Obamacare before this is through.”
But Salmon acknowledged that the GOP was divided throughout the showdown, contending that the outcome may have been different had the party coalesced behind a single position.
“The party itself was very, very divided during the midst of this,” Salmon said. “I think that if we were a lot more unified and carrying one message we would have been a lot more successful.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who led the futile charge to defund Obamacare, also argued Wednesday that Republicans would have had more success if not for the infighting.