The long awaited voice of reason for the 2016 election has finally weighed in. Mitch McConnell took time out from his busy schedule of cutting budget deals with the Democrats to caution everyone against going crazy next year and nominating a bunch of wacko birds who can’t possibly win. Let’s tune in to a short segment of the sage advice. (The Hill)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday warned Republican voters to steer clear of nominating Tea Party candidates who can’t win in next year’s general election.
“The way you have a good election year is to nominate people who can win,” he told reporters during his final Capitol Hill press conference of 2015.
He urged Republican primary voters to avoid the mistakes of the past, mentioning several Tea Party candidates who went down in flames in recent Senate elections.
“What we did in 2014 was we didn’t have more Christine O’Donnell’s, Sharron Angles, Richard Mourdocks or Todd Akins. The people that were nominated [last year] were electable,” he said of the last midterm cycle.
I seem to recognize this argument from somewhere, but where was it? Oh, that’s right… it was me. I was making the same case in 2012 after watching the wreckage of a handful of totally winnable races two years earlier which slipped away. But a few years of observing the antics of Congress after we supposedly took control of both chambers has cured me of much of that. That’s not to say that we don’t need to do careful vetting of candidates… we absolutely do. Christine O’Donnell was a disaster of a candidate and in retrospect we probably should have seen that Akins had too much baggage to carry for the race he was in. But the “you’re too conservative to win” argument has long since begun to fall flat in my own ears by this point. (With the caveat that you need to understand the temperature of the district or state you’re running in, of course.)
I notice that McConnell wasn’t limiting his comments to Senate races, either, though he was being a little coy about it.
McConnell said the same standard applies to the presidential race, reiterating a statement he made earlier in the week.
“We’d like to have a nominee who can carry purple states because unless the nominee for president can carry purple states, he’s not going to get elected,” he said.
It was a veiled shot at the GOP presidential front-runners: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.
Sorry, Mitch, but you’ve even managed to lose me on this argument by now and I was one of the biggest squishes around for Romney’s run. I gave up on that theory – not to mention being exhausted by the endless internecine warfare between the NERPs and the Tea Party – when I wrote The Great Experiment in 2013. I could see the wisdom of making “the smart pick” for the POTUS nominee if we were here today spending our time discussing the merits of the various policies put in place by President McCain or President Romney, but history is a rather brutal teacher.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of the wacko bird, Tea Party candidates who were not named O’Donnell or Akin not only won, but thrived. Everyone assured me that Ted Cruz was among the wackiest of the wacko birds when he first ran but the results speak for themselves. Conservatives are on track to do something with the nomination this cycle, though I still don’t know what. But one things seems certain… it’s going to be something different. And after the beatings we’ve taken on the national level in 2008 and 2012 something different is definitely called for.