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Cantor’s approach blew up this week. Conservatives who want repeal might have the upper hand — over Democrats, too.

By Michael Catalini
Updated: April 26, 2013 | 1:30 p.m.
April 26, 2013 | 11:27 a.m.

The influential conservative website Red State does not score key-vote legislation.

But Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Helping Sick Americans Now Act nearly changed that. The bill would have insured thousands of Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be dropped because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act, Cantor argued. The bill was supposed to be a savvy way to make the GOP seem softer and score political points by tweaking Obamacare.

That is not, however, how many conservatives viewed the bill.

“Only a bunch of idiots in Washington, DC in the Republican Party could look at the rising animosity of the American people toward Obamacare and all its costs and burdens and say, ‘By God let’s fix it!’” Red State editor Erick Erickson wrote.

House conservatives panned the bill at their regular luncheon, Heritage Action’s communications director Dan Holler called the legislation “bad messaging,” and a squabble erupted online between Sen. Ted Cruz’s staffers and staffers who supported Cantor’s approach.

Leadership pulled the bill from its scheduled slot on the floor, at the same time exposing the intraparty political problem facing the GOP: Do conservatives double-down on the repeal-or-bust approach? Or do they accept the law for now but try to emasculate it wherever possible?

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