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Mitch McConnell Ready to Fight GOP Base

Everything you ever thought about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is wrong.  He really is a fighter after all.

At a recent fundraiser with 300 K street donors, as reported by Politico, Mitch McConnell was in a combative mood.  According to one attendee, he was “in fighting mode.”

No, he was not in a fighting mode against Obama and the Democrats.  As he spoke at a K street retreat, the relaxation of his comfort zone kicked in and he rallied the establishment faithful against conservatives:

Mitch McConnell isn’t going to have another government shutdown on his watch.

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.”

The attendee said McConnell “said everything that needed to be said” to help tamp down growing concern among bundlers and donors over how the GOP continues to be paralyzed by anti-establishment members like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Neither lawmaker attended the event.

Here is the unanswered question: if Mitch is willing to telegraph the message that he is so committed to avoiding brinkmanship – to the extent that he is willing to fight his own party – why would Obama ever have an incentive to negotiate on anything?  All he has to do is wait them out, even on the toughest issues for Democrats, and McConnell will deliver the Senate conference to him on a silver platter.

Yet McConnell incessantly touts the importance of winning back the majority with him as Majority Leader.  But Obama will still be president in 2015.  So as long as Obama threatens to veto anything, what is Mitch going to do about it?  This is the question I dealt with in my weekend op-ed for Fox News, “Building a GOP Majority on Quicksand.”

But hey, it’s all about tactics:

McConnell also told attendees that Republicans are ready to challenge the tactics of the party’s anti-establishment wing, unlike the passive approach of the past two election cycles, and said they will fight back against people “who believe words like negotiate and compromise” are a bad thing.

Actually, he needs to learn the difference between compromise and unconditional surrender.  When you can’t even hold the line with your conference on delaying the mandate, when a bunch of Democrats are forced to promote it, you’re not engaged in any form of negotiation.  You are engaged in sabotage.

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