Wed November 7, 2012
McConnell Congratulates Obama on Re-Election, But Advises President Move to Center
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has extended congratulations to President Obama on his re-election, but argues the White House needs to moderate and that voters have not given the president a mandate.
Mr. Obama defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Tuesday in the popular vote and soundly in the Electoral College, winning most of the battleground states. It was two years ago when McConnell said that his main objective was to ensure that Mr. Obama would be a one-term president.
But now McConnell says Republicans are eager to hear from the president on how to resolve problems such as the looming fiscal cliff, but he
warns Mr. Obama should propose a way for both parties to work together.
"Now it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office," he says.
The GOP maintained its majority in the House, but Democrats added to their margin in the Senate by retaining tough races in Montana, North Dakota and Missouri. In addition, Democrats had key pickups such as Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
McConnell, however, says voters have simply given Mr. Obama a second chance to work with the opposing party, and argued the American people did not endorse his policies or overall government spending of the first term.
"The American people did two things," says McConnell. "They gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives. The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control."
Several pundits point out that despite ample opportunity, Republicans have failed to gain the majority in the Senate under McConnell's leadership. The Senate is closer to the ratio when Mr. Obama first took office.
Others have highlighted that the GOP should worry about the changing electoral map.
From The Washington Post:
President Obama’s decisive victory over Mitt Romney served as a clinic in 21st-century politics, reflecting expanded power for black and Hispanic voters, dominance among women, a larger share of young voters and even a rise in support among Asians.
Obama’s triumph showed how Democrats win in the modern era, using targeted messages to piece together ethnic groups while adding enough white voters in the old Rust Belt.
In the aftermath of the presidential race, some GOP leaders have taken the 2012 election results as a sign that the party's messaging—not its ideology—needs to change in order to appeal to the country's changing demographics.
"(I)’s clear that with our losses in the presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration (sic) ahead for the Republican Party,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn said in a statement. "While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead."
There is already speculation that McConnell's leadership position could be threatened, and the fact that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., turned down an offer to lead the NRSC does not bode well.
A good sign for McConnell is that the GOP is dominating Kentucky’s federal delegation save Democratic Third District Congressman John Yarmuth.
In Kentucky, Democrats outnumber Republicans in voter registration but the GOP retained a seat with Thomas Massie winning the Fourth Congressional District, and they picked up one with Andy Barr’s upset over Ben Chandler in the Sixth Congressional District.
Despite Yarmuth's pledge help Democrats take aim at McConnell in 2014, Kentucky is becoming more conservative and the Massie, Barr victories are a sign of that.
“Kentucky elected two exciting new Congressmen last night, Thomas Massie and Andy Barr. Their message of reining in outrageous Washington spending and the overreaching policies of the Obama Administration resonated throughout our state," says McConnell. "They ran great campaigns and they will be incredibly strong voices for their constituents. I know they will make Kentucky proud."