Hatch says Lee, other tea party Republicans need to be ‘rehabilitated’

October 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch declined Tuesday to endorse the re-election of fellow Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee but said Lee has plenty of time to improve his image after losing a high-stakes fight over the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m not going to get into endorsements at this point in any way,” Hatch said during a Deseret News and KSL interview focused on the political impact of the battle that led to a federal government shutdown and a near default.

It’s time now, Hatch said, for Lee and other tea party Republicans to be “rehabilitated” for refusing to pass a budget bill needed to keep the government operating unless money for the act better known as Obamacare was removed.

“I think Sen. Lee has plenty of time to reach out to fellow Utahns and to show he’s worthy of being re-elected,” Hatch said. “The best thing to do is do the job, really work hard, (and) stay away from extremes unless you’re absolutely sure you’re right.”

In this case, Hatch said, Republicans are all opposed to Obamacare, but many saw the strategy employed by Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as a losing cause. Hatch said there was never a way for Lee to succeed in stopping the health care law.

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