Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that the divide on the right over the quixotic effort to defund Obamacare is further proof that Republicans need “an open and honest debate” about the future of the party.
McCain has condemned threats by the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to block any continuing resolution that funds Obamacare and risk a government shutdown. The senior Arizona senator said that many of the Republicans and conservatives who back the defunding effort weren’t in Washington in the early 1990s when the GOP suffered a political backlash for a government shutdown.
“It is a battle that’s going to go on in the Republican Party and we’re going to have to have a struggle and a conversation and an open and honest debate about the direction of the Republican Party,” McCain said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And that debate needs to be held.”
McCain added that the GOP must also resolve its differences on the national security front, a policy area that has created a rift hawks like him and libertarian-minded Republicans like Paul.
Paul drew the ire of McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with his marathon filibuster earlier this year to protest U.S. drone policy. The Kentucky Republican also recently feuded with New Jersey Gov. Christie (R) over libertarianism.
“We’re going to have to have a debate about the future of the party, not only on this kind of thing but also isolationism versus internationalism,” McCain said.
McCain’s fellow Arizona Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, has been targeted recently by the Senate Conservatives Fund for resisting efforts to defund Obamacare.