President Barack Obama took aim at freshman Republican senators in an interview with The Associated Press published Saturday. And though he didn’t name him, it’s clear he was contrasting himself with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has led the push on the right to defund Obamacare through the government-shutdown fight.
Obama said that the key difference between his time in the Senate and freshman senators like Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cruz is that he tried to keep a low profile in the Senate.
The media may not have let him keep a low profile, he conceded — he was certainly one of the most visible senators during his four years in office. But he said Cruz and others were actively attempting to boost their profiles.
Here’s the key part of the transcript (emphasis added):
The media may not have, but I didn’t go around courting the media, and I certainly didn’t go around trying to shut down the government. And so I recognise that in today’s media age, being controversial, taking controversial positions, rallying the most extreme parts of your base — whether it’s left or right — is a lot of times the fastest way to get attention or raise money, but it’s not good for government. It’s not good for the people we’re supposed to be serving.
And one thing I just have to remind members of Congress about is these are real folks that are being impacted. I’ve got staff here who may be expecting their first child, and right now they’re not sure about whether or not they’re going to be able to meet expenses. I’ve got young staff who, if they have a car accident, they may have a thousand dollar premium on their car insurance — or deductible on their car insurance, and if they don’t get a paycheck, they may be broke. They will not be able to pay the bills. […]
I mean, essentially what’s happened here is Democrats are saying they are prepared to pass a Republican budget for two months while negotiations continue. We just can’t have a whole bunch of other extraneous stuff in it, and the obsession with the Affordable Care Act, with Obamacare, has to stop; that that is not something that should be a price for keeping the government open.
Obama’s interview came on Friday, the fourth day of an ongoing government shutdown that has no foreseeable end. In the interview, Obama repeated his calls for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring the so-called “clean” Senate bill to the House floor for a vote. That bill would keep the government funded through Nov. 15.
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