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Obama’s electoral success has given three freshman Republican senators dreams of becoming president

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Gail Collins SAYS the GOP show horses of the Senate have delusions of grandeur:

One of the least attractive legacies of Barack Obama will be the way he empowered freshman senators to believe they were only one or two good speeches away from the presidency.

Right now, the show horses of the United States Senate are Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. All preparing for a 2016 presidential bid. All making visits to Iowa. They’re the new faces of the Republican Party. Really, really new. The three of them have an average age of 45 and an average tenure in Washington of 1.9 years.

And all three are currently in the news for their efforts to get Republicans to promise not to vote to fund the government this fall unless the president cancels Obamacare…

Rubio, Cruz and Paul weren’t the first senators to promote the shutdown idea. But they’re the ones with the national names, in a party that’s got a crush on crazy.

(Snip)

The fight between the Shutdown Trio and their colleagues is not about the Affordable Care Act, which virtually every Republican in Congress loathes and gives speeches about constantly, even when the topic under consideration is supposed to be oil drilling or the next secretary of labor.

The fight is over whether the fortunes of the party would be improved if people connected it to the sudden closing of the national parks and the local passport office. “We’ve been down that road,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss on MSNBC. “We shut down the government …and we got our butts kicked over shutting down the government.” Chambliss is 69 and about to retire. Nobody is ever going to invite him to give the keynote address at the Iowa Republican Party summer picnic.

“The sort of cocktail chatter wisdom that ‘Oh, the shutdown was a disaster for Republicans’ is not borne out by the data,” Cruz said. The Democrats are sort of horrified and sort of enthralled by the whole drama.

“Give a call to Newt Gingrich. He’ll return your phone calls. Ask him how it worked,” suggested Majority Leader Harry Reid. Gingrich, who led the House during the last government shutdown in 1995, was busy touring the Peoria Zoo, where he admired a parrot.

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