Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell fielded fire from within his own ranks in a recent closed-door meeting, when conservative colleague Sen. Tom Coburn reportedly questioned his leadership skills and ability to control Obamacare dissenters in the party.
Mr. Coburn was giving a harsh appraisal of Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and their aggressive pushback on Obamacare, The Hill reported. And that’s when he spoke of the Republican Party’s “leadership vacuum” on the Senate side, at least two sources said.
Mr. Coburn “said to Cruz and Lee, ‘Don’t pretend to be naive. You know outside groups are using what you’re doing as ammo against your colleagues,” one Republican who attended the meeting, The Hill reported. Mr. Coburn also said to the pair that they had lost control of the messaging, before turning to Mr. McConnell and telling him that “this has happened because there’s a leadership vacuum.”
Mr. Coburn wouldn’t comment, but other senators have painted Mr. McConnell with a similar stroke, accusing him of giving Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee too many political bargaining chips.
“What are we, chopped liver?” one Republican senator said, to The Hill.