Just in case anyone was left wondering where things stood in the ongoing Battle of the Titans – Cruz v McConnell – the Senate Minority Leader went out on Face the Nation this morning to make it clear. The Senate GOP will be moving in a different direction.
“Shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy,” he said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy. A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn’t. So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”
As you’ll see in the video below, (no need to fast forward as the pertinent material pops up in the first minute of the interview) Mitch added a bit of down home, Southern style wisdom to his description of the situation before getting to the quote from above.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: You know, one of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is that there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of the mule occurred back in 1995 when a Republican House shut down the government. Look, shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy…
That’s some fairly bold and confident sounding talk for somebody facing a primary challenge from the right, and Bob gets to that subject in the questioning also.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Back in Kentucky, the Tea Party folks went nuts. You’re going to have a Tea Party candidate opposing you in the Republican primary. They say they are now more determined than ever to beat you. They even accused you of taking a kickback.
McConnell chooses to answer the question about the dam project and then fends off Bob’s attempts at getting him to engage in some Cruz baiting. (McConnell declines and says that he and Cruz agree on the goals, just not the strategy to achieve them.) But around the seven minute mark of the video, Bob takes another run at the primary question and gets an answer.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, just let me say this about the primary in Kentucky. I’ve endured millions of dollars of attack ads that have been calling me a right wing fanatic over the years. I think my opponents in the primary are going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters that I’m some kind of liberal. I enjoy the support of the most famous Tea Party senator in America, Rand Paul. I’m supported by Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, two other Tea Party favorites who were elected in 2010. I have the support of Mike Huckabee and Bill Bennett. I think they’re going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters that Mitch McConnell is some kind of liberal. In fact, we took a poll last month to check that out and only 2% of Kentuckians thought I was a liberal, so I think that’s a pretty hard sell and is almost certainly going to fail.
It’s impossible to tell – this far out from the election, that is – how much of that is bravado and good marketing or how much of it is confidence that the votes simply aren’t there to chase him out of his seat. But recent poll numbers indicate that, with seven months to go before the primary, McConnell has more to worry about from his Democrat challenger than from Matt Bevin. Of course, seven months is an eternity long enough for new mountains to rise in politics, and that could still change.