Republicans have a habit of attacking their own people in a manner that handicaps them against Democrats, said Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, who added that House Speaker Paul Ryan exemplified the problem when he picked up a Democratic narrative against Donald Trump.

"Remember that in 2013 the government shut down because the president refused to work with us on a few adjustments to Obamacare," Fleming said in an interview published Wednesday. "The first people to criticize the House of Representatives, and Ted Cruz, were Republicans and the conservative-leaning media. Not Democrats."

"It really appeared as though they were trying to separate themselves to make themselves look smarter," Fleming said in the exchange with National Review. "But the truth is, on the Democrat side they would never do that. Just with the Hillary Clinton [FBI probe], every single Democrat is jumping to her defense. Yet had it been a Republican, you would have had many Republicans siding against that person."

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Fleming was subsequently asked about Ryan's claim that statements made by Trump could be considered "racist." Fleming replied that Ryan had picked up the "political narrative" pushed by Democrats. "I don't get the point of it. I don't see how it's helpful to do that. Any Republican who begins to pick up the political narrative of the other party, it's not helpful."

"The Republican Party should be synonymous with conservative values. So our position is, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, if you're not going to hold up our values, we need to speak up about it," Fleming said, referring to the conservative House Freedom Caucus of which he is a member. "But I've gotta tell you, virtually everything [Trump] says is right down the line the kind of things we've been saying all along. The man is giving the exact speech I'd be giving if I ran for president."

Fleming, who was first elected to represent northwestern Louisiana in the House in 2008, is favored to win the Senate seat being vacated this year by retiring Republican Sen. David Vitter.