Mitt Romney Criticizes Ted Cruz's Government Shutdown Threat

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Ted Cruz is in the middle of leading a big push to defund Obamacare or shut down the government after September 30th by blocking all federal budget deals. He has rallied 12 other senators and 66 House Republicans to join him, but the effort has stalled as other congressional Republicans have come out against the push.

Now, Republican 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney has waded into politics for the first time since November to criticize the threat. Romney made repealing Obamacare a central campaign message, but even he can't seem to stomach the idea of shutting down our government to block it.

Read what Romney said below the jump.On Tuesday in a Wolfeboro, New Hampshire state party fundraiser speech close to his vacation home, Mitt Romney warned:

“I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government. What would come next when soldiers aren't paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty?

Usually, the best political strategy is to do the opposite of what Mitt Romney is doing, but Mr. 47% is right on this one. A government shutdown is dangerous and harmful to the United States. It would place thousands and thousands of Americans out of work, harm our economy through blocks on lending, endanger our food sources, and hamper our national security, for starters. It would also be a foul manifestation of the Republican Party's opposition to doing anything productive.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is ramping up his 2016 exploratory efforts. On Tuesday he added yet another Iowa visit to his schedule, this one a keynote speech at the state GOP's annual Ronald Reagan Commemorative Dinner in October. Cruz visited Iowa on July 19th, and will go back this Saturday for an evangelical gathering with his extremely right-wing dad. The Des Moines Register reports that he will also attend the Iowa State Fair, a time-honored stop for presidential hopefuls.

Cruz's confirmed presidential aspirations are central to the shutdown threat. He is engaged in an act of showmanship to wow primary voters, health of the country be damned. GOP Sen. Bob Corker recently said “people see through” Cruz's push, and prominent Republican Rep. Tom Cole called Cruz's efforts a “temper tantrum”. Republicans as a whole are bothered that their party seems to be an issue of no concern to Cruz. Politico recently reported this hard-hitting Republican quote:

A former top Senate GOP leadership aide, who asked for anonymity, said Cruz's latest battle “isn't about principle and it isn't about party.”

It's about promoting Ted Cruz's presidential ambitions, and he and his team are making clear that retaining the House or winning back a Senate GOP majority are all secondary to that goal,” the source said. “It's a shortsighted and selfish political strategy but one that fellow Republicans are unfortunately having to get used to.”

Americans will not reward a Cruz-led Republican Party that leads our country into government shutdown. Cruz is also framing the shutdown threat to Republicans as one that will reveal whether they are truly against the Affordable Care Act. That threat-within-the-threat is a bad political bet, and one that could magnetize the party to the rhetorical extreme right ahead of the 2014 elections.

The San Antonio Express-News is running an excellent editorial today arguing against Cruz's “political suicide” plan. Here's the end of it:

Senator: fellow Republicans – who share your distaste for the ACA – are telling you that this will backfire. And Democrats secretly hope you persevere, showing the nation that your faction of the GOP has so little regard for government that it is just fine with causing it to go kablooey.

The entire GOP will get the blame, not the guys who refuse to knuckle under to your blackmail.

This is why, going into congressional midterm elections next year, your move makes no sense politically. It makes no sense as a matter of public policy because it threatens federal spending that, despite the starve-the-beast sentiments you obviously harbor, is actually needed.

Senator, this amounts to a tantrum that tarnishes your opposition to the ACA and calls into question the wisdom of your principles. Give it up.

Unfortunately, Ted Cruz takes advice only from his team of trusted political ambitions.

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About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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