DES MOINES, Iowa Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says this month's partial government shutdown and his key role in it were a success: They got people talking.
"One of the things we accomplished in the fight over Obamacare is we elevated the national debate over what a disaster, what a train wreck, how much Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans across this country," Cruz told about 600 Iowa Republicans on Friday at the Iowa GOP's annual fundraising dinner in Des Moines.
Cruz's crusader's spirit was the perfect example of what longtime Republicans in Iowa and nationally say is at the root of the party's losing ways and has sparked an intraparty fight over the way forward after consecutive losing presidential elections.
It's a conversation that's spilling out from backstage to behind the podium between national GOP establishment luminaries and state leaders around the country.
"A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn't," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Other Senate Republicans, including the party's 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized the strategy that led to the shutdown as foolhardy.
Although he ultimately lost, the 42-year-old freshman senator played a leading role bringing about the 16-day partial federal shutdown with his demand that President Barack Obama gut his 3-year-old health care law.