- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2013

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Friday that Sen. Jeff Flake is a “strong conservative,” putting him at odds with some voices in the GOP who have hammered the Arizona Republican’s reluctance to embrace a government shutdown in order to stop funding for Obamacare.

“I had the opportunity to serve with Sen. Flake for 12 years, and he is a great individual and a strong conservative, and I can’t say enough good things about my friend,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Flake has a 97 percent lifetime rating with the American Conservative Union and has come under fire from the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has questioned his conservative credentials after he refused to sign the group’s pledge to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Jeff Flake used to be one of us, but now he has become one of them,” the narrator says in a recent SCF radio ad.

The SCF was founded by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who took over the helm of the Heritage Foundation earlier this year and is holding its own hall meetings aimed at pressuring lawmakers to reject any spending bills that include money for the health care law.

The push has received a lot of media attention, but just 14 of the Senate’s 46 Republicans have pledged their support for the no-holds-barred, defund-Obamacare campaign.

Mr. Flake wants to defund Obamacare, but he does not support the idea of shutting down the government — a move that some Republicans warn would hurt the party much like it did following the government shutdown in 1995.

Former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough, a co-host of “Morning Joe,” has repeatedly blasted away at the effort and defended Mr. Flake.

Mr. Scarborough on Friday said that conservatives agree with him everyday, but that a “couple cheetah crunchers” in their underwear with blogs tend to garner most of the attention.

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