Axelrod: GOP faces ‘hell of a battle’ over who’s in charge

Updated
Axelrod on Morning Joe in September 2013.
Axelrod on Morning Joe in September 2013.

The GOP is heading toward a civil war, former political adviser to the president David Axelrod said, and it’s going to be the mainstream versus the extreme.

“It is the mainstream conservatives—the Pat Toomeys, the Tom Coburns, the Wall Street Journal editorial page types—that are winning the day,” host Joe Scarborough posited, suggesting that the party’s rejection of Sen. Ted Cruz’ plan to filibuster his way to defunding Obamacare (a ploy that would likely shutdown the government along the way.)

But Axelrod said that the rank-and-file incoming Republican Party is actually skewing even farther right and embracing such movements.

“But when you look at these primary candidates all of whom are taking the position, this crazy lemming-like position that Cruz is advocating, it gives you a sense of where the Republican Party is at,” he said on Tuesday’s Morning Joe.

The Hill reported on Sunday that nearly all of the Republicans planning a Senate run in 2014 support the defund Obamacare movement, calling it “a sign of how popular they believe the plan is with conservative primary voters.”

“I think there’s gonna be a hell of a  battle in 2016 over who actually is in control of that party,” Axelrod said. “Yes the leaders of that party are taking a sensible position by opposing this, but the rank and file is taking a different position.”

Indeed, on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said they would support measures to fund the government while defunding Obamacare, but they wouldn’t support a filibuster effort Cruz has promised.

Axelrod: GOP faces ‘hell of a battle’ over who’s in charge

Updated