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Calgary Cruz cannot be popular in the House majority leader's office right now.
The rebellion against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Republican rebranding effort on health care didn't just come from House Republicans. Emails obtained by Buzzfeed show that Sen. Ted Cruz's chief of staff and one of his legislative assistants aggressively criticized Cantor and the bill on a "Repeal Coalition" email list.
In the emails, Cruz Chief of Staff Chip Roy and legislative assistant Alec Aramanda not only slammed the bill but accused Cantor of hypocrisy and questioned his and his supporters' fealty to the full repeal of Obamacare. [...]
It is extremely unusual for members or staff from one chamber to actively lobby against legislation sponsored by a member of their own party in the other chamber—particularly when it is the majority leader, the second most powerful person in the House.
And don't forget, Calgary Cruz is a junior senator, albeit an ambitious one; having his staff take aim at the majority leader must be especially galling to Cantor. These were not gentle disagreements, either. In one email, Roy, Cruz's chief of staff, railed against "painting in the pastels of D.C. group-think and accepting the premise of the very thing we supposedly seek to kill." Neither were Cruz's staff working alone.
Indeed, one of the most intriguing aspects of the emails is the clear alliance between Cruz and those close to DeMint. In addition to [former top Jim DeMint aide Matt] Hoskins, former senior aide Ed Corrigan repeatedly bashed the legislation, as did Russ Vought, the political director at Heritage Action.
In one missive, Vought explicitly warned his colleagues that despite their concerns—and reportedly aggressive lobbying from Cantor's office—Heritage Action would come out against the bill.
This isn't even a fight over whether the Republican Party makes its policies less extremist. Eric Cantor doesn't want to do that, as Ryan Lizza's New Yorker profile of him made clear:
Since the 2012 elections, the Republicans have been divided between those who believe their policies are the problem and those who believe they just need better marketing—between those who believe they need to make better pizza and those who think they just need a more attractive box. Cantor, who is known among his colleagues as someone with strategic intelligence and a knack for political positioning, argues that it’s the box.
What we're seeing this week is that Eric Cantor tried to repackage Republican opposition to Obamacare into something slightly more palatable—just the box, not the pizza—and he got his ass handed to him by members of his own caucus, by the staff of a junior senator, and by powerful far-right groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth. That's how extremist today's Republican Party is.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM PDT.