Ben Armbuster notes that Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is now denying reports that he told a group of donors that Republicans weren’t serious about repealing the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Davis Intelligence Reports, Corker “told the gathering of donors not to worry about the incoming class of ‘crazier Republicans’ because the majority of Senate Republicans, especially minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had no intention of repealing the president’s health care bill“:
They instead planned to fix only the “bad parts” of the law, Corker reportedly told the group. Several attendees, including a very senior Republican official, appeared visibly shocked by Corker’s comments.
Sen. Corker’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
“Sen. McConnell has been unambiguous [...] on the need to repeal the bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that actually reduce costs,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told DIG.
Corker’s denial aside, this isn’t the first time the senator has had to backtrack from pouring cold water on the GOP strategy of full repeal. “I know this is probably not the company line, but the [health care] bill is passed. The president now has in his hands a completed bill,” Corker said in March as Obama prepared to sign the legislation into law. Shortly thereafter, during a speech at Vanderbilt University, Corker admitted, “The fact is that’s [repeal] not going to happen, OK?” but later backtracked from his remarks by saying that it won’t happen before 2012.
Indeed, after promising their base the moon and the stars, Republican senators and candidates have tried to temper expectations for what they will be able to achieve if they do win back the House. On Monday, outgoing Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) also backpedaled from the full repeal pledge, reverting back to the GOP’s original strategy of only changing parts of the law law. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has similarly said, “I think, we need to keep expectations, again, fairly modest as far as what we can do over the next two years.”