Now that he’s in the crosshairs of rabid Tea Partiers who see compromise as a sign of weakness, Mitch McConnell has decided that it’s time to stand up to them. Since the rise of the movement, the Republican Party has embraced them, partly because they can win primaries by appealing to the party base.
But now that he’s facing the threat of being “primaried,” McConnell is finally speaking up, saying in an interview with the Washington Examiner:
The Senate Conservatives Fund is giving conservatism a bad name. They’re… ruining the [Republican] brand. What they do is mislead their donors into believing the reason that we can’t get as good an outcome as we’d like to get is not because of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, but because Republicans are insufficiently committed to the cause — which is utter nonsense.
McConnell, who has nearly 29 years of experience, knows that in Washington, effectiveness requires compromise. In Tea Party candidates’ eyes, this means that he isn’t conservative enough. Mitch McConnell too liberal, though? That’s a hard idea to wrap the mind around.
McConnell told the Examiner that extreme elements are making people afraid of conservatism, and for that reason, “It’s time for people to stand up to this sort of thing.”
McConnell thinks that in the last two election cycles, Republicans lost many winnable races because they ran candidates who appealed to the conservative base but did not have sufficiently wide appeal to win a general election. Fail to do that and you will fail to win.
McConnell has good reason to worry, he already faces stiff competition in his reelection bid next year from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Grimes has posed a serious challenge since announcing her campaign against McConnell: she’s very popular, and almost immediately began posting polling numbers which showed that the race between the two would likely be very close.
Matt Hoskins, executive director of the SCF and the man who decides who the Tea Party will support, thinks that McConnell is wrong – that the way to win elections is by appealing to the party base. SCF is backing Matt Bevins, who’s challenging McConnell in the Republican primary.
Grassroots conservatives are very worried about the direction of the country and they believe urgent action is needed to save it. This is why they’re not happy with politicians who vote with them most of the time. They want people who will actually stand up and fight for them.