A slew of new radio ads marks the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter battle within the GOP.
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., answers questions from the media outside of the television studios after an Arizona U.S. Senate debate Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Phoenix. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
Conservatives are out with a slew of radio ads attacking Republicans who haven’t signed on to the right-wing effort to defund Obamacare at all costs.
The ads urge voters to ask their reps to defund the “unaffordable, unworkable.” They don’t mention that doing so would likely lead to a government shutdown, as President Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that doesn’t fund the healtcare law. The charge for defunding Obamacare has been led by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, both Tea Party favorites.
The ads are paid for by the Senate Conservatives Fund, a Jim DeMint-founded political action committee that typically supports primary challengers from the right. It is not affiliated with any Senate group.
“Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare by simply refusing to fund it,” each ad begins—a premise that many contend is untrue.
“But Sen. Jeff Flake is nowhere to be found,” the ad targeting the Arizona senator continues. Similar ads target Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
The ad targeting McConnell is backed by a $47,590 ad buy, according to the Fund; the Senate Minority Leader faces a tough reelection battle next year. The ad attacking Flake, who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, backed by a $31,750 buy. The Arizona Republican responded to the ad on Twitter with a shrug.
Oh, whatever… bit.ly/1feVK4m— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 26, 2013
Sarah Palin threw her celebrity toward the cause on Tuesday, signing on to the proposal in a statement released by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
“This beast must be stopped—by not funding it,” she said.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, one of the healthcare law’s fiercest critics, has ripped his colleagues for suggesting that they could use the Congressional budget to defund the law.
“I want to defund this bill, but I also want a way to do it that kills it,” Coburn said on the Senate floor last month, citing a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report that found that the bill’s funding was automatic, and that defunding the Congressional portion of its funding would do little to stop the law from being implemented.
Coburn has also said the conversation will divide his party.
“The strategy that has been laid out is a good way for Republicans to lose the House,” Coburn told the “I’m getting phone calls from Oklahoma saying, ‘Support Mike Lee,’ and I’m ramming right back: ‘Support him in destroying the Republican party?’”
But Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough says that wouldn’t be a bad idea—if it removed the extremists from the party.
“Something great is happening right now. These extremists are being shown to be extremists,” Scarborough said. “We’re starting to see the Republican Party stand up and flex their muscle to people who have no idea how to win elections.”