BOSTON (AP) — Lawmakers and strategists from the Republican Party's establishment are lashing out at tea partiers and congressional conservatives whose unflinching demands triggered the 16-day partial government shutdown and sent the GOP's popularity plunging to record lows.
The open criticism is a stark reversal from just three years ago when the GOP embraced new energy from the insurgent group to fuel a return to power in the House.
For a party in an extended identity crisis, the intensifying clash between those in its mainstream and those on its far-right wing muddies its strategy ahead of the 2014 elections.
In the view of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, House Republicans overreached during the budget impasse by believing "we have one-half of one-third of the power in Washington, therefore we have three-fourths of the ability to get things done."
Republicans run the House, but Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who was hosting an education conference in Boston, argued that congressional Republicans represent "the mirror opposite" of the successes of GOP governors.
Other party elders, whose calls for compromise were often overshadowed by the tea party in recent weeks, blamed conservative groups such as Heritage Action, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth. They were influential during the debate, at times promising to help defeat Republicans lawmakers who voted for a compromise with Democrats.
"The right is a multiplicity of various groups, some of which aren't even Republicans, but who think they can control the Republican Party," said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, condemning tactics he referred to as "radicalness."
Republican strategist Mike Murphy chided what he called "the stupid wing of the Republican Party."
"There's tension and there ought to be a questioning of whether we ought to listen to such bad advice," Murphy said when asked about the influence of conservative groups. "We took a huge brand hit. It's self-inflicted. ... I'm glad there are no elections tomorrow."
The government reopened Thursday after Congress voted the night before to end the shutdown and increase the nation's borrowing authority, narrowly averting what business leaders feared would be economic disaster with global implications.
Polls suggest that voters overwhelmingly disapproved of congressional Republicans' handling of the crises.
Gallup found earlier in the month that just 28 percent of Americans reported a favorable opinion of the GOP, its lowest rating since the firm began such polling about the two parties in 1992. Republicans may have fared worse than Democrats during the ordeal, but neither party escaped political damage.
"There are no winners here," President Barack Obama said Thursday.
The compromise package, brokered by a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats, funds the government through Jan. 15. To head off a default, the agreement gives the government the authority to borrow what it needs through Feb. 7. Treasury officials will be able to use bookkeeping maneuvers to delay a potential default for several weeks beyond that date, as they have done in the past.
Lawmakers are now trying to find agreement on how to replace this year's automatic, across-the-board spending cuts with more orderly deficit reduction. But the showdown and subsequent criticism from establishment Republicans seemed to embolden defiant conservatives, who promised more hard-line tactics in the coming months. Some pledged to work harder than ever to defeat Republicans who stand in their way.
"Congress has failed," the Tea Party Express said in a fundraising message.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a tea party favorite, hinted at primary challenges for Republican incumbents "from sea to shining sea" just hours after Congress voted to end the shutdown.
"Friends, do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.'s permanent political class," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Be energized. We're going to shake things up in 2014."
The Club for Growth on Thursday endorsed a GOP challenger to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has yet to decide whether he will seek re-election next year. Tea party groups are also supporting the conservative challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky while backing like-minded candidates in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she hopes her party would move toward "common-sense problem solvers" in the future.
"I don't want to go down this road again," she said in an interview with The Associated Press, noting that she disagreed with congressional conservatives' tactics during the budget fight. "What we take from this experience is that there are obviously common-sense problem solvers, and that's where the party needs to be."
Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is among those pushing for mainstream Republicans to play a more significant role in party politics.
"We don't have leadership in Washington, D.C.," Branstad said of his party, making an exception for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who is helping lead bipartisan budget talks and headlining a Branstad fundraiser next month. "There's a lot of governors around this country who could run this country a lot better than people in Washington."
Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and news survey specialist Dennis Junius in Washington contributed to this report.
"Hopeful," that's how Congresswoman Ann Wagner describes Thursday's meeting between GOP leaders and President Barack Obama.
The two sides got together to discuss the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline. The St. Louis County Republican was one of 18 GOP lawmakers who attended the 90-minute meeting at the White House.
Wagner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that toning down the rhetoric that has accompanied the dispute was one area where both sides agreed. "We can't be fear-mongering and talking in ways that make our markets react," she said.
CHICAGO (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Kirk Dillard has chosen state Rep. Jil Tracy as his running mate.
Dillard announced his lieutenant governor pick late Monday on Instagram with a video message.
Tracy is a Quincy Republican who first took office in 2006 and is a member of the bipartisan pension panel tasked with trying to find a solution to Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension problem.
Dillard is set to make the announcement official Tuesday with a statewide tour, including stops in Quincy, Springfield and Rockford. Tuesday is the first day candidate petitions can be circulated
It's the first year lieutenant governor candidates will run with governor candidates on the same ticket.
Also Monday, Treasurer Dan Rutherford announced his running mate is Chicago attorney Steve Kim.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The chairman of the Republican Party in Montgomery County has resigned after writing what's been called a racist and sexist email about U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' primary challenger.
Illinois Republican Party chairman Jack Dorgan says he accepted Jim Allen's resignation on Thursday afternoon. Allen wrote an email Tuesday suggesting Erika Harold could fill a "minority quota" if she lost the Republican primary. The biracial Harvard law school graduate was crowned Miss America in 2003 and launched her bid to challenge Davis this month.
During a conference call Thursday, Davis said Allen should step down from the county post. That call was echoed by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who said Allen should apologize to Harold and resign.
Allen's name already was removed from a list of Davis supporters.
One of the signers confirmed for ABC News the existence of the brief signed by the Republicans and said it would be submitted to the United States Supreme Court this week. The deadline to submit briefs is Thursday.
The document, known as an amicus or "friend of the court" brief, is being submitted in support of a lawsuit aiming to strike down Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that passed in 2008 banning same sex marriage. The existence of the brief was first reported by the New York Times.
Republican elected leadership, like House Speaker John Boehner, as well as the platform, are staunchly against same sex marriage.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group who brought the California lawsuit challenging Prop 8, released a list of the signers today including Cheney's daughter Mary Cheney.
Signers included former congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of California, former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Meg Whitman, who supported Prop 8 when she ran for governor of California in 2010. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Richard Hanna of New York and former GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman also signed. In addition, three former Massachusetts governors -- William Weld, Jane Swift, and Paul Cellucci -- along with former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman are signers. The list also includes Republican attorney and Romney senior adviser Ben Ginsberg and other high profile GOP leaders, strategists, consultants, and staffers.
Some big name supporters of same sex marriage who have not signed the brief include former vice president Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The fight against Prop 8 already had a big name conservative supporter in Theodore Olson, former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, who is one of the suit's two lead attorneys along with David Boies.
The court will hear arguments next month in the case and another important gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.
One of the signers is Nicolle Wallace, Republican strategist and former George W. Bush aide and John McCain campaign adviser. Wallace said the beginning of the group took place in 2010 when Republicans supportive of same sex marriage came together to fundraise for the legal effort. But even in 2004 during Bush's re-election campaign working alongside Mary Cheney everyone on the campaign was aware there were disagreeing opinions on the ticket.
"For a long time those of us who sort of have always been on the pro-gay marriage side were quietly aware of others who had this view, but what's tremendous now is I can't think of any issue that has moved with greater speed than this one," said Wallace, who is an ABC News contributor.
She said the "power of the legal argument had a lot more to do with persuading the majority of Republicans on the brief than any political pressure."
Wallace stressed that she believes this issue, unlike others, will not "ignite a civil war in the party" because so many people have gay friends, co-workers, and family members even those who don't agree with their stance have a lot of "respect" for the disagreement.
In the latest ABC News-Washington Post polll on the topic from November a slim majority of Americans support gay marriage 51-47 percent, but amongst Republicans it is only 31-67 percent.
One of the signers, former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr. voiced his support of same sex marriage last week, after opposing it during his presidential bid, in an article in the American Conservative titled "Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause."
"Conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry," Huntsman writes. "I've been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love. All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall...Civil equality is compatible with, and indeed promotes, freedom of conscience."
Brian Donahue, a Republican strategist who did not sign the brief, believes that because the list includes so many prominent Republicans it represents a "significant step" for the party.
"It's a sign that there is a growing interest in the party to take steps to broaden its reach in defining what's acceptable to be part of this party," Donahue said. "It's healthy for members of the party to express their beliefs and opinions even when they may not be favorable by party leadership. It's healthy for the party to examine how it affects the lives of all Americans and it's a healthy discussion that's taking place within the party to say, 'What do we stand for?'"
Some Republicans fear the amicus brief could badly split the Republican Party. Hogan Gidley, a GOP strategist who has worked on the presidential campaigns of both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, says the Republican tent should be "very broad," but this move by the group of Republicans will widen the schism in the party.
"I don't want Republicans to be lazy and say, well Latinos are flocking to Democrats in droves so we should do amnesty,'" Gidley said. "The homosexual community is flocking to Democrats in droves so we should legalize gay marriage. The marijuana advocates are flocking to Democrats in droves, we should legalize drugs. To me that is a little bit reactionary, but also a little bit lazy."
Gidley said that he would "hate for anybody to sell their convictions in the hopes they get more votes."
Constitutional law experts say that while amicus briefs do not traditionally decide cases, they can be very influential.
Stanford constitutional law professor Jane Schacter says in this case she believes it could be an "influential brief" because it "telegraphs to the court that there is an increasing number of people who support same sex marriage and that it is no longer a partisan issue to the extent that it was."
"When this number of Republicans are saying it's an issue where there should be equality it changes the way it looks to the justices," Schacter said.
Yale constitutional law professor William Eskridge agreed, but said he believes the brief will not affect "the final vote, the likely affect is the way the opinion looks. Not just the majority opinion, but the dissenting opinion as well."
"It discourages a barnburning hysterical dissent," Eskridge said, noting Chief Justice John Roberts is less likely to sign on to a "barnburning" dissent after this brief.
But Thursday's vote poses a challenge for Republicans.
After suffering big losses at the polls last fall, GOP leaders in Illinois and nationwide said the party needs to be more inclusive and diverse.
But after Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady publicly backed same sex marriage during January's lame-duck legislative session, members of the more conservative wing of his party called for his ouster. Opponents also pledged to fund primary challenges to any Republican who voted in favor of the bill.
The conflict comes as voters' feelings are shifting rapidly in favor of gay rights.
If the Senate approves the measure, it will move to the House.