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McConnell To Newsmax: 'I'm a Thorn in the Side' of Obama

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter   |   Thursday, 03 Oct 2013 07:31 PM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview that Democrats are feverishly raising money to defeat his re-election bid because "I'm a thorn in the side of the president," especially when it comes to trying to defund Obamacare.

"I'm sure they'd like to defeat me," the Kentucky Republican tells Newsmax. "I'm frankly proud of my enemies."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is among several prominent Democrats and their supporters who are raising millions to stop the five-term McConnell in his election next year against Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Urgent: Do You Support Sen. Ted Cruz's Efforts to Defund Obamacare? Vote Here.

Next week, for instance, the Nevada Democrat will host a luncheon in Las Vegas for Grimes, with ticket prices ranging from $1,000 to as much as $5,000, according to news reports .

And such prolific Democratic rainmakers as Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who raised huge sums for President Barack Obama's re-election last year, and New Yorker Michael Pratt are helping the Grimes campaign.

Pratt headed the fundraising for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her Massachusetts race last year. She raised $42.5 million in her successful campaign against Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

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"I wouldn't trade them for any group of people I can think of," McConnell — whose supporters include the PACs of such corporate heavyweights as Koch Industries, Home Depot, Amgen, and Ford Motor Co. — tells Newsmax of his adversaries.

Perhaps the clearest example of how McConnell continues to keep up the heat on Obama is the current stalemate over Obamacare that initiated the first partial shutdown of the federal government for the first time in nearly two decades.

Proposals sent to the Senate by House Republicans have been about temporarily financing the government through mid-December while completely defunding Obamacare or delaying the individual mandate for another year.

The Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected all the House measures.

The government shutdown, which began Tuesday, affects as many as 800,000 employees, though some remain on the job to provide essential services. The last time the government closed down was for a total of 28 days between November 1995 and January 1996.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts

That shutdown cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion.

"Their attitude remains the same: They're not interested in negotiating, and we find that rather curious," McConnell tells Newsmax. "They're willing to negotiate with the Russians, with the Iranians. I don't know why not with us.

"If he controlled the whole Congress like he did the first two years of the administration, he'd be able to get his way, but the American people, even though they re-elected him, didn't give him a blank check.

"They didn't give him and all the Congress to do his bidding, and inevitably they must deal with the other side," McConnell says. "We all work for the same group, the American people, and they expect us to work these differences out and to do the people's business.

"It's been pretty difficult to achieve that when the Senate Democrats and the president say, 'We're not going to and shouldn't negotiate anything.'"

The central issue remains a one-year delay in the Obamacare mandate for individuals, the senator says.

"Obamacare is a catastrophe for the country, and the president has already indicated ... that it's got problems because he granted a one-year reprieve to businesses with the employer mandate. We've argued, well, why not individuals? Why not give them a year delay as well?"

Despite Democrats being outnumbered in the Senate, fighting to stem the impact of Obamacare is critical, McConnell tells Newsmax.

"Any effort we can put forth to try to stop Obamacare is worth it. It is pretty clear now that that's not going to succeed in a Senate where we have a math problem. There are 54 Democrats committed to Obamacare and 46 Republicans committed to taking it down," he says.

"This debate is not over. The Democrats are going to crack at some point," McConnell says. "You've got a bunch of Democrats indicating great nervousness about Obamacare."

He disagrees that the Obamacare debate between the parties will lead the country to default on its credit obligations as Congress begins negotiations to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

"We're not going to default, but the request of any president to raise the debt ceiling has brought about major negotiations to do something about the debt. We now have a gross debt the size of our economy, which makes us look a lot like a Western European country.

"We've added more debt during the Obama years than all the presidents from George Washington down to George Bush," McConnell says. "We've got a big problem here."

Urgent: Do You Support Sen. Ted Cruz's Efforts to Defund Obamacare? Vote Here.

In his wide-ranging interview, McConnell also tells Newsmax that:
  •  Republicans will take the nation in "an entirely different direction" if they win back the Senate in next year's elections: "Less spending, less borrowing, no more taxes."
  • The closing of Washington monuments by the Obama administration because of the federal shutdown is all politics. "Who would have thought that World War II veterans would have to storm the barricades to see their own memorial?"
  • Washington is a safe place, despite a fatal police shooting Thursday afternoon after a Connecticut woman led authorities on a chaotic chase through central Washington,  and the recent assault of a Republican congressman. "The Capitol Police do a great job of protecting not only members but staff."
Editor's Note: See other excerpts of the Newsmax interview with McConnell:

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