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Former Vice President Walter Mondale on Tuesday laid blame on House Republicans and the tea party for the partial government shutdown and looming debt ceiling deadline that could result in the nation's first default.
"I'm very angry at this strategy of train wreck to force a reluctant government to do what someone wants," Mondale told CNBC.com, referring to efforts by House Republicans to tie the debt ceiling fight to the repeal of Obamacare. "The tea party types, those House Republican hardliners, are blackmailing the rest of the country."
(Read more: When will the shutdown end? Let's talk 1995)
Though he didn't mention him by name, Mondale was probably referring to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a renegade tea party favorite, who last month spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours in favor of withholding funds for government operations unless Obamacare is gutted.
Some House Republicans' insistence to refuse support for a continuing resolution to fund the government without changes to the Affordable Care Act undoubtedly played some role in triggering the shutdown.
But Mondale called that a "dangerous" strategy that should not be repeated.
"This really is a dangerous thing to me because if having bad manners, if paralyzing the government and requiring the rest of government to pay the ransom, if that is successful, we're going to see it used again and again by minorities that were not elected," said Mondale, who served as the 42nd vice president under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.
(Read more: Joe who? VP scarce as debt clock runs down)
Mondale said he hasn't spoken to President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden during the debt crisis. If he were in office, though, he said he would seek to end the budget impasse and avoid default by "trying to put pressure on people who are trying to block everything, urging them not to do that." He said he also would push to change House and Senate rules so that Cruz would not be able to repeat his quasi-filibuster.
—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter