WASHINGTON – Old guard Senate Republicans are using the term “wacko” to describe new members promoting the tea party call for smaller government and accountability, and a congressional source for WND says it’s a sign of an emerging inter-party clash.
Referring to the fallout from the filibuster this week by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a top Republican aide said there “could not have been a starker contrast in terms of the new reformers of the Senate, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, all fighting the overreach of this executive, versus on the handful of senators having dinner in one of the most expensive hotels in the country.”
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who both criticized Paul for his nearly 13-hour filibuster of the vote on John Brennan for CIA director, were among the Republican leaders who dined with Obama. According to the Huffington Post, McCain referred to tea party Republicans, including Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., as “wacko birds.”
“I don’t think you could get a clearer and starker vision of what one side thinks Washington should be doing versus the other,” the source said.
The energy generated by Paul’s filibuster and the stances taken by Sens. McCain and Graham show why “they don’t have the backing and support of the American people,” the source said.
In the hours after Paul’s filibuster, both McCain and Graham launched deeply critical attacks against Paul, claiming that, fundamentally, the American people have nothing to fear from their government. Paul, Cruz and Lee raised alarm when the Obama administration wouldn’t immediately assure the public it would not kill an American citizen on home soil with a drone.
In the Huffington Post interview, McCain went further in his criticism of tea party lawmakers.
“I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans,” he said. “They’re not.”
The Senate aide also elaborated on the consequences of the tensions for the 2014 mid-term elections, taking aim at Graham’s reelection plan in South Carolina.
“You might see a lot of momentum in the direction in South Carolina in 2014 to support somebody like Cruz, Paul or Lee rather than Lindsey Graham,” he said.
According to a Public Policy Polling report conducted in 2011, when hypothetically stacked up against tea party favorite Congressman Joe Wilson in a head to head competition, Graham would trail 43-41.
The Senate aide also targeted retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., saying, “We should not scratch Michigan off the map.”
He suggested the tea party has “a couple of very good candidates that could run there.”
Amash’s name appeared in that discussion.
The source added that “the tea party resurgence” in 2010 could easily be duplicated in 2014.
“Despite the fact that the GOP lost in 2012,” he said, there were a number of tea party candidates that gained prominence, including Cruz.
He also said tea party members have a lot to look forward to in 2016 when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Paul might compete for the presidential nomination.