The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 19, 2013

Shutdown showdown widened GOP-tea party rift

(Eds: Also sent previously. With BC-US-Budget Battle-Tick Tock. With AP Photos.)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republicans' clear defeat in the budget-debt brawl has widened the rift between the Grand Old Party and the blossoming tea party movement that helped revive it.

Implored by House Speaker John Boehner to unite and "fight another day" against President Barack Obama and Democrats, Republicans instead intensified attacks on one another, an ominous sign in advance of more difficult policy fights and the 2014 midterm elections.

The tea party movement spawned by the passage of Obama's health care overhaul three years ago put the GOP back in charge of the House and in hot pursuit of the law's repeal. The effort hit a wall this month in the budget and debt fight, but tea partyers promised to keep up the effort.

Whatever the future of the law, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell vowed he would not permit another government shutdown.

"I think we have now fully acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is," McConnell said in an interview with The Hill newspaper.

Tea party Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told ABC News he wouldn't rule out using the tactic again, when the same budget and debt questions come up next year.

"I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare," Cruz said.

That divide defined the warring Republican factions ahead of the midterm elections, when 35 seats in the Democratic-controlled Senate and all 435 seats in the Republican-dominated House will be on the ballot. In the nearer term, difficult debates over immigration and farm policy loom, along with another round of budget and debt talks.

The animosity only intensified as lawmakers fled Washington this week for a few days' rest.

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