U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, revealed in a radio interview Friday just how extensively he and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were “attacked” by members of their own party at a private lunch earlier in the week.
“Normally, I don’t comment at all on closed-door meetings between Republican senators. It’s a pretty strict rule we have,” Lee told host Hugh Hewitt, adding that unnamed sources had already leaked details of the meeting to the media. “It was an all-out attack against Ted Cruz and me. It was unflattering. It was unfair. It was demeaning.”
The attack by establishment Republicans centered on the two freshman senators’ strategy to defund Obamacare. An anonymous attendee described the scene as a “lynch mob,” according to The New York Times.
“It was demeaning to Sen. Cruz and to me, but more than anything, it was demeaning to those who engaged in the attacks,” Lee told Hewitt.
The meeting got tense when Cruz was asked “point blank” to repudiate the Senate Conservatives Fund’s attacks against the senators, Politico reported.
“I will not,” Cruz replied.
Lee refused to disclose which Republicans rose to attack him, but he said there were so many senators that he “lost count.”
“Did anyone rise to your defense?” Hewitt asked.
“Sort of,” Lee replied. “Not really.”
“I believe in forgiving and forgetting,” Lee said later in the interview. “I think we can get beyond that. But we need to stay focused on the goal, which is not to fight fellow Republicans, but … fighting the party of Obamacare.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by Cruz, who told Politico, “It seems that there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes.”
Cruz added that his focus is “on stopping Harry Reid’s shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans.”