The partial government closing drove the Republican Party's approval ratings to historic lows and took its focus off the failed rollout of Obamacare, Barbour said.
A Pew Research Center Poll published Oct. 16 found that the anti-tax tea party was at a record low in popularity, with even many fellow Republicans "viewing the movement negatively." Forty-nine percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable opinion. Among those who said they backed the Tea Party, Cruz's popularity soared to 74 percent favorable from 47 percent in July.
"For everyone who criticized me for the quote-unquote tactics of standing strong against Obamacare, the simple follow- up question is revealing," Cruz said. "If you do not like this tactic, what is your alternative? Far too many in Washington were content to give speeches about Obamacare but do absolutely nothing to stop the real harm that millions of Americans are experiencing."
Some Republicans support Cruz's approach. "Ted Cruz is good for the Republican Party," said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and 2012 presidential candidate. "That doesn't mean we should all march to his particular ideas, but I'd rather have a party that has Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee than one that doesn't."
Among Republicans, Gingrich said, "There has been a long period of tension between what I would call the accommodationist wing and the movement that really wants to change Washington. It's a great brawl. The forces of real change are winning."
Cruz's approach also stands in contrast to how both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama conducted themselves in their first year in the senate, avoiding the spotlight. Clinton used to sit for lectures on the chamber's traditions from the late Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, and avoided going on Sunday political talk shows. Obama adopted that model.