More details are leaking out about Wednesday's closed-door meeting where TeaPublican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas faced the wrath of his Republican colleagues, with one senator describing what transpired as a "lynch mob."
A report on Friday in The New York Times shed more light on the private lunch, indicating that Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dan Coats (R-IN) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) berated Cruz for leading the charge to block funding for the Affordable Care Act, an unobtainable goal that led to the current government shutdown:
"And on Wednesday at a private luncheon, several Senate Republicans — Dan Coats of Indiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — assailed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has led the movement to block funding for the health law.
Ms. Ayotte was especially furious, according to two people present, and waved a printout from a conservative group friendly to Mr. Cruz attacking 25 of his fellow Republican senators for supporting a procedural vote that the group counted as support of the health law.
Ms. Ayotte asked Mr. Cruz to disavow the group’s effort and demanded he explain his strategy. When he did not, several other senators — including Mr. Johnson, Mr. Coats and even Mitch McConnell, the minority leader — joined in the criticism of Mr. Cruz.
“It just started a lynch mob,” said a senator who was present.
Despite the uproar, Mr. Cruz did not offer a plan for how his party could prevail in the shutdown battle and suggested his colleagues were defeatists."
Politico reported earlier this week that it was attacks levied by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the organization founded by former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), that angered Cruz's GOP colleagues.
“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy -– he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was,” one senator told Politico. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”
Conservatives outside the Senate have taken swings at Cruz as well. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Cruz "pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away." Rep. Peter King (R-NY) accused the "Ted Cruz wing" of trying to "hijack" the Republican Party.