The Kentucky Republican stood up over the weekend and said he wanted to address the “elephant in the room” at a fundraising retreat in Sea Island, Ga. Speaking before roughly 300 K Streeters and big donors, McConnell said Republicans will not come close to defaulting on the nation’s debts or shutting down the government early next year when stop-gap government funding and the debt ceiling are slated to be voted on again.

His remarks echoed similar comments he made following the shutdown that it was “not conservative policy” and that he always believed “this strategy could not and would not work.”

“He’s in fighting mode,” said one attendee of McConnell. “He didn’t get into specifics about what they are doing and how they are going to do it, but McConnell and (Texas Sen. John) Cornyn were particularly forceful.”