McConnell Takes Gloves Off in Tea Party Fight

Image: McConnell Takes Gloves Off in Tea Party Fight

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 12:17 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned up the heat on the tea party, saying political parties must run candidates "that don't scare the general public."

Candidates must "convey the impression that we could actually be responsible for governing," the Kentucky Republican told The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, who reported the interview in her weekly column.

McConnell, who is facing a tea party challenge in Kentucky from businessman Matt Bevin, said the biggest victory in Tuesday's election wasn't in either of the governor's races, in New Jersey or Virginia, but in a special congressional primary in Alabama.

Editor's Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking)

In that race, McConnell said, "a candidate who said the [government] shutdown was a great idea, the president was born in Kenya, and that he opposed Speaker [John] Boehner came in second."

Victory by the more-electable Republican — establishment-backed Bradley Byrne — was significant, McConnell said, because parties that wish to govern must win races.

Byrne beat tea party-supported Don Young, by 53 percent to 47 percent, in the Mobile-area district.

McConnell said he does not believe the Republican Party is in a "civil war." There's one thing, though, that the entire party agrees on: Obamacare.

"We would all love to get rid of Obamacare," McConnell said. "If we had the votes to do it, we'd do it in a heartbeat. It's the single worst piece of legislation that's been passed in modern times."

But there are 45 Republicans in the Senate and 55 senators who caucus with the Democrats, he pointed out. "I'm not great at math, but 55 is more than 45," he said.

"It's irresponsible for some people to characterize themselves as sort of true conservatives, to mislead their followers into believing you can get an outcome that you can't possibly get."

McConnell admitted that he agrees with the tea party's people "who are angry and upset at government," but he thinks many of them are misled.

"They've been told the reason we can't get to better outcomes than we've gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House, but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty" said McConnell. "Well, that's just not true, and I think that the folks that I have difficulty with are the leaders of some of these groups who basically mislead them for profit," saying these groups "raise money…take their cut and spend it" on actions that harm Republicans

He singled out former Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, which last month publicly endorsed Bevin. The fund, which is targeting McConnell with ads slamming his leadership, "has elected more Democrats than the Democratic Senatorial Committee over the last three cycles," the senator said.

But he downplayed worries that Bevin could defeat him in the 2014 primary. "I don't want to be overly cocky, but I'm going to be the Republican nominee next year," he said.

Within hours of McConnell's interview appearing online, a tea party group called United Kentucky Tea demanded his "immediate resignation."

Editor's Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking)

The group did not cite the Wall street journal interview, but said McConnell should quit because he has "abdicated Congress' control of the authority to borrow money on behalf of the United States."

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