President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Friday that some Republican lawmakers will not speak out against shutting down the government because they are afraid of how conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh will talk about them on the air.
Obama lumped in Limbaugh with other common Republican sentiments, such as fear of a primary challenge from a more conservative opponent.
Some Republican congressmen, led prominently by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), have urged fellow party members to get behind a plan to not fund any continuing-resolution bill that funds the Affordable Care Act.
“Nobody thinks that’s good for the middle class,” Obama told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an interview. “So the question is ultimately, if you are putting the American people first, if you are prioritizing them, then this shouldn’t be that difficult.
“And I’ve made this argument to my Republican friends privately. And, by the way, sometimes they say to me privately, ‘I agree with you, but I’m worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the Tea Party back in my district,’ or, ‘I’m worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio. And so you got to understand, I’m — it’s really difficult.'”
“Well, you know what? I can’t force these folks to do what’s right for the American people, because they’re independently elected, it’s a separate branch of government, and I don’t have a vote in Congress. But what I sure as heck can do is stay focused on what I know will be good for the American people.”
Obama has publicly expressed this sentiment before. In the aftermath of the fiscal cliff deal in January, he slammed Limbaugh and Fox News for being what he saw as a major source of partisan gridlock in Washington.
Here’s the clip:
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