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Rove criticizes Lee's approach to Obamacare

Published August 13, 2013 6:53 am

Health care • The strategist fears Utah senator's plan will backfire on GOP.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • GOP strategist Karl Rove said Monday that Sen. Mike Lee's plan to force Democrats to either defund Obamacare or shut down the government come October could be a "nightmare" for Republicans who will get the brunt of criticism when paychecks stop flowing.

"Let's not kid ourselves. We'll be blamed," Rove said on the Sean Hannity radio show, charging that Democrats won't just roll over and let the Affordable Care Act lose funding. "This assumes that Democrats are going to be scared of a shutdown. They're not. They want it. They know what happened to us in 1995."

The GOP lost seats in the 1996 elections after the federal government shut down over a budget impasse with then-President Bill Clinton. Rove said this time could be worse since military spending could be cut, too.

Lee, also appearing on the Hannity show, said he is not for shutting down the government and that if the House sends over a spending bill without money for the Affordable Care Act, it will be up to Senate Democrats.

"This is a false choice that we're talking about here," Lee said about either funding the health care law or facing a shutdown. "What I'm saying is let's fund government except Obamacare."

And Lee took issue with Rove's argument that the GOP should back off because it may take some heat for forcing a showdown.

"You mean to suggest that we shouldn't fight just for the reason we're going to get blamed for it?" Lee said. "We cave and we cave and we cave. This is how we get into trouble."

Some of Lee's own Republican colleagues, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, have disagreed with his push, though Lee does have the support of 11 GOP senators.

tburr@sltrib.com