What the potential 2016 candidates have said about the shutdown

October 2, 2013

Potential 2016 presidential candidates have weighed in on the federal government shutdown in varying ways, with Republican governors seeking to contrast Washington gridlock with their own records and Democrats laying blame on congressional Republicans. Meanwhile, potential Republican candidates who are in Congress have not budged from the move to fight Obamacare in the short-term budget debate.

Below is a rundown of what they have all been saying.


Former Florida governor Jeb Bush: Leading up to the shutdown, Bush expressed disagreement with the GOP push to defund Obamacare in the stopgap budget debate. "If you control one-half of one-third of leverage in Washington, D.C., your ability to influence things are also relative to the fact that you have one-half of one-third of the government," Bush said last month, adding, "So as we get closer to these deadlines, there needs to be an understanding of that, or politically it's quite dicey for the Republican Party."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Christie said Monday that a shutdown would be a "failure of everyone who is responsible for the system." He released an ad on Tuesday in which he says "compromise isn't a dirty word." Translation: Contrast what I have done to work with the other side to what you see in Washington.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.): Cruz has led the charge in the Senate to shred Obamacare in a stopgap spending bill, a posture which Democrats have blamed for the shutdown. On Wednesday, he called on the Senate to adopt the piecemeal approach the House has embraced. "The House is on track today to pass individual CRs to fund Veterans Affairs and National Monuments, but Senator Reid and President Obama say they refuse to consider them, even though they agreed to pass a similar CR covering military pay on Monday night," Cruz said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: In an Tuesday piece for the Daily Caller, Jindal laid most of the blame for dysfunction in Washington at the feet of President Obama. "The dysfunction in Washington is primarily his dysfunction." Jindal also slammed GOP infighting in Washington, and sought to contrast it with Republican governors. "Obamacare is bad for the country. We would like to see it repealed and replaced, not to score political points, but to save our nation’s health care from higher costs and lesser care. We appreciate all the Republicans in Washington fighting to do just that. What we don’t appreciate is Republican disunity and fratricide in Washington," he wrote.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.): Paul told the Lexington Herald-Leader that "when people get caught up in the shutdown, I try to tell them, 'Well look, this isn't just about a shutdown. This isn't just about temporary inconveniences of the government shutdown. This is about whether or not a society or a civilization can borrow a trillion dollars every year without ramifications.'" He's also suggested a short-term CR.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.): Rubio slammed Senate Democrats Monday for rejecting a House GOP bill to keep the government funded and delay Obamacare's individual mandate." While Washington debates how to keep the government open, too few are talking about how to keep the American dream alive for the vast majority of Americans threatened by Washington’s dysfunction and intrusions into our economy and lives," said Rubio. "On October 1, ObamaCare will begin to take root in Americans’ lives and mark among the most invasive intrusions into our workplaces, health plans and religious freedoms that we have ever seen."


Vice President Biden: Biden is in lockstep with President Obama, who has repeatedly called for Republicans to pass a clean CR to keep the government funded.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton: Clinton suggested before the shutdown that Republicans would feel political harm if they caused one. "I think they ought to go back and read history. Because I will just say that it wouldn't be the worst thing for Democrats if they try to shut the government down," she said last month.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Cuomo has described "the lunacy that's going on in Congress" and added that governing is about trying to find common ground. This is pretty much the Christie posture.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley: O'Malley blamed congressional Republicans for the shutdown. "The federal government shutdown that congressional Republicans forced upon us will needlessly hurt hardworking Maryland moms and dads who are federal employees; harm small and large businesses across Maryland — including health, aerospace, and defense companies; and threaten our State’s budget in a time of economic recovery," he said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · October 2, 2013