For the most part, Republicans will insist that they lost the NY-26 special election because a self-funded pseudo-tea partier trashed their candidate, Jane Corwin.
In his first public response to Tuesday’s defeat, House Speaker John Boehner deviated slightly from that script.
“Special elections are just that: they’re special. And when you look at what happened in this election, you had a third-party candidate who spent nearly $3 million attacking the Republican candidate. And I could be somewhat critical of how the campaign was run. But the fact is we didn’t win. And the small part of the reason we didn’t clearly had to do with Medicare.
He’s downplaying these other factors. But it’s interesting to see him admit the GOP’s position on Medicare played any role at all, and to watch him gently push Corwin under the bus. Having acknowledged that there’s at least some truth to the conventional wisdom, though, Boehner went on to defend the GOP’s position and attack Democrats for not putting out a comprehensive Medicare plan of their own that’s projected to reduce the federal commitment to Medicare spending and stave off national bankruptcy.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.