Outgoing Senator Saxby Chambliss expressed reservations Wednesday to the idea of sending Ted Cruz-esque Republicans to the Senate, specifically with regards to the crowded race to fill his shoes in 2014.
“To Ted’s credit, he picked an issue, and he got out front, and he led on it. That’s what’s being a policymaker is about,” he said in an AJC interview. “I happen to disagree with his strategy.”
That strategy consisted of a push to tie defunding Obamacare in full to funding the government and the debt ceiling, a step detractors argued was quixotic in nature and had little chance of success.
Though Chambliss has opposed Obamacare from its onset, and has repeatedly backed full repeal, he critiqued Cruz’s tactics along those same lines, arguing for a piecemeal approach to rolling back the unpopular law without tying it to funding the government.
“He never could explain how we were going to win, other than to say we’re going to kick the president in the teeth,” Chambliss further stated. “You can do that to a point. After that, it starts kicking back. I don’t think we need more of that philosophy in the Senate.”
Such tactical disagreements sparked a “no” response when asked if the Senate needed another Cruz.
The Moultrie native did, however, offer praise to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who’s frequently mentioned as a top 2016 presidential hopeful and has oft-allied with Cruz.
“Rand’s issue was valid. Rand’s issue was legitimate. It was an issue I had concerns about,” he said of the Kentucky senator’s spring filibuster, aimed at forcing the Obama administration to state it wouldn’t target Americans with drones on American soil.
“I called the White House and said: ‘You guys are nuts. He’s going to beat the hell out of you on this.’”
Paul’s filibuster was ultimately vindicated, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s office ultimately clarifying that drone strikes wouldn’t be carried out on American citizens.
As for a direct message to the crowded field of GOPers vying to succeed him, Chambliss advised a rigid focus on fiscal responsibility, even if it meant moving beyond Obamacare.
“My advice to all of them is, look, the No. 1 issue we’ve got is fiscal responsibility. You’ve got to engage on that. At some point, we’re going to get beyond Obamacare. It’s either going to collapse, or the president is going to keep going – and it will take care of itself.”