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Matt Gaetz bristles after Kevin McCarthy blames Freedom Caucus for midterm losses

The congressman blames GOP flogging on ‘repeal-and-replace’ tactic.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz balked at reports Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed the House Freedom Caucus for Republican losses in November.

McCarthy singled out the conservative faction while talking with donors, according to conversation audio obtained by The Washington Post. Specifically, McCarthy said a Republican push to roll back health care protections led to election losses.

“You want to aim before you fire,” McCarthy told donors.

But Gaetz said stripping back the Affordable Care Act wasn’t the problem.

“We lost the midterms because GOP leadership allowed big insurance to write a bill the public couldn’t understand and the politicians couldn’t explain,” the Panhandle Republican said on Twitter Sunday.

Gaetz, a member of the Freedom Caucus, suggested the electoral folly as far as policy came in the “repeal and replace” tactic.

“We should have just repealed ObamaCare like we promised. We need a congress that will #DoWhatWeSaid.”

He called out party leadership for cozying to special interests instead, and saddled some of the loss on former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“Go check how much money health insurance companies gave GOP leadership and aligned committees in the months before ‘3 buckets RyanCare’ was clumsily rolled out,” Gaetz said.

The assessment echoed FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon, who wrote “Republicans lost because of inept leadership by establishment folks.”


A McCarthy spokesman told the Post the Republican leader ““has been clear-eyed on what went wrong last cycle.”

“No one is more committed to doing everything necessary to win back the House,” the spokesman said.

Republicans lost a net 40 seats in the November midterm election, and with it control of the House.

That included a number of Freedom Caucus members, including Dave Brat of Virginia and Rod Blum of Iowa.

But in Florida, Democrats picked up two seats, both held by moderate Republicans before the election.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo lost to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Democrat Donna Shalala won a seat vacated by retiring Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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