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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 8th, 2013
11:15 PM ET

Tea party-backed senator: Shutting down the government 'wasn't the best strategy'

Tea party-supported Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, is staunchly against Obamacare. But he said tying the defunding or delay of Obamacare to the funding of the government, which effectively led to the government shutdown, may not have been the best approach.

"It probably wasn't the best strategy to employ," said Johnson.

Republicans made an argument on Obamacare, and promised the country something they actually could not deliver – defunding the president's signature legislation.

"From my standpoint, I didn't think defunding Obamacare was achievable," said Johnson, who is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. "In order to defund Obamacare you needed five Democrat senators to switch their positions, and they haven't done that."

Johnson's colleague Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who also has strong tea party support, led the charge to defund Obamacare in the Senate, staging a 21-hour talkathon two weeks ago trying to prevent the Obamacare provision from being removed from the House-passed funding bill.

While Johnson said it was not the best strategy, he would not call the tactic a mistake, saying instead, "I appreciate any effort that really highlights how harmful Obamacare is going to be."

Now that the House is in this situation, it is doing what it should do, said Johnson.

"They're starting to pass small appropriations bills, they're starting to prioritize spending. The fact that Harry Reid isn't even willing to bring this up for a vote, kind of shows you who really is playing politics with the situation," said Johnson.

Johnson said it "took to two to tango," and that Republicans alone did not lead to the government shutdown, pointing to the passage of the Affordable Care Act along party lines as the root cause of the present stalemate.

For more of our interview with Sen. Ron Johnson, watch the video above.

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