Politics
3:00 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Mitch McConnell Looks to Reclaim Anti-Obamacare Narrative from Conservative Critics

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called for a one-year delay to Obamacare for all Americans as its implementation approaches.

The move comes as public support for the president's health care law is waning, including public criticism from labor unions who call it "highly disruptive."

But McConnell's renewed push against the law is also a political calculation back home. It is an attempt to counter-punch a growing chorus of conservative activists and a primary opponent who argue the GOP leader isn't doing enough to de-fund it.

A recent CNN poll shows support for the Affordable Care Act dropped 12 point since January, with just under 40 percent saying they favor the law.

The survey found support plummeted the most among women and Americans who earn less than $50,000 annually.

McConnell says that is a sign Congress must heed, and urged lawmakers to give individuals and families a reprieve as the administration is doing for businesses.

"We need to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare for everyone. That’s what the amendment I’ve filed will do," McConnell said. "And then enact what Kentuckians and Americans really need: a full repeal of this job-killing mess of a law. And that’s just what I intend to keep fighting for."

The senator's amendment to do just that has been attached to an energy bill, and is being co-sponsored by a handful Republican senators 

For the past several weeks, the machine of criticism that McConnell has helped build against Obamacare over the past three years has been aimed at him.

Led by Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin, conservatives argue McConnell has not joined the de-fund Obamacare movement in Congress and has helped undermine the effort. The 

That has been a central point of the Bevin campaign and groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, which have charged McConnell is "doing nothing" to stop the law.

Bevin took that a step further in a recent interview with Roll Call, saying McConnell has "never stood on the Senate floor to try to actually rally against" Obamacare.

Watch:

In a blow to that message, however, a fact-checker with The Washington Post blasted Bevin's comments and gave him "four Pinnochios" as a result.

From WaPo:

Bevin needs to restrain his rhetoric. While McConnell appears skeptical of Bevin’s preferred route to end the health-care law, that’s not an excuse to invent a fictional McConnell who “never stood on the floor of the Senate to actually rally” against Obamacare when the Democrats pushed the law through Congress–and who since then has repeatedly sought to repeal or dismantle the law.

In one breath, Team Mitch operatives will decry any media attention Bevin receives arguing reporters and political observers are giving the Louisville businessman a "free pass."

At the same time, the McConnell campaign spends a considerable amount of time and money discrediting Bevin with mailers, TV ads and web videos. Campaign aides reacting to the WaPo piece say it is a killing blow that takes away a "central point" of Bevin's campaign. 

Other aides clsoe to the senator say the McConnell campaign will begin to pay less attention to Bevin, and focus more on the general election contest against likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.

"Our data is showing us that he's basically a non-factor with the electorate right now and is basically only mentioned on earned media posts at WFPL, Courier-Journal and periodically in Capitol Hill publications," a senior McConnell campaign advisor told WFPL. "In other words, currently he's not growing support anywhere. He's talking to the same people every day. He's a stagnant candidate."

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