‘I really believe we are in a great position right now,” says Michael Needham, the 31-year-old president of Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the nation’s largest conservative think tank. By “we” he means the Republican Party and the conservative movement; their “great position” refers to the potential to win the political battle over the government shutdown.
Though Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the public face of the high-risk strategy to “defund” ObamaCare, the masterminds behind it are a new generation of young conservatives, chief among them Mr. Needham. From a tactical view, the strategy has been deployed with precision. In August, only Mr. Cruz and a band of renegade tea-party Republicans in the House favored this approach, and the media collectively scoffed. But by September, House Republicans couldn’t pass a budget without attaching the defunding rider that has grounded much of government.
“We rallied the conservative grass roots across the country,” Mr. Needham says, and ran ads in more than 100 districts on the health law. It worked. During the August recess, these activists demanded that their members of Congress stop ObamaCare.
To most observers, who think the GOP is losing this fight, Mr. Needham’s optimism that Republicans will carry the day may seem astonishing. But Mr. Needham says the second-guessers are wrong.