McCain doubts Cruz could force a shutdown

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that popular opinion would prevent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) from forcing another government shutdown over ObamaCare. 

"I think he can exercise his rights as a senator, but it will not happen," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union." "The American people will not stand for another one of these things."

The Arizona lawmaker noted that "Republicans are at an all-time historic low in approval," and noted that, just like the period following the Clinton-era government shutdowns, GOP lawmakers were wary of further damaging their brand.

"I think the American people have spoken and will continue to speak very loudly," McCain said.

He reiterated his criticism of Cruz and other senators who pushed to use the shutdown as leverage in a fight against ObamaCare, saying that "it was never going to succeed."

"All of those involved in it went on a fool's errand, that's just a fact," McCain said.

The former Republican presidential candidate also noted that one of the "ironies" of the shutdown was that it and the "strife that has been going on within the Republican Party" had obscured the ObamaCare rollout "fiasco." The online marketplace where uninsured Americans can purchase coverage has been plagued by still-unresolved technical problems.

McCain also noted that the consequences of a shutdown were "not academic." He said that the tourist economy around the Grand Canyon in his home state had been devastated by the two-week government closure.

Nevertheless, McCain stopped short of eviscerating Cruz over the shutdown. He said he recognized that Cruz had been elected to do whatever he could to oppose ObamaCare. And he said that while there are "divisions within the Republican Party" that " our adversary is not each other."

"We need to be respectful of each other and each other's views," McCain said.

Asked if Cruz might be a viable presidential candidate in 2016, the former Republican nominee even allowed that the Texas senator would be "very attractive to many" within the party.

Still, McCain cautioned, the question remained if the party would actually "be able to field a winning presidential candidate."