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With Senate GOP Campaign Failing, Scott Angrily Attacks McConnell

With 64 days to go until the 2022 midterm elections, the guy the Republicans picked to take back the Senate is ... declaring war on Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s a strategy, I guess.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is fired up. He wrote a scathing tirade op-ed in the conservative rag The Washington Examiner that’s a very thinly veiled attack on McConnell, who told reporters earlier this month that Republicans have a “candidate quality” issue.

McConnell isn’t mentioned by name, but there’s no mystery who Scott’s talking about here. “Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates. It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause,” Scott wrote. Treasonous, no less.

“If you want to talk about the need to raise more money to promote our candidates versus the Democrats’ terrible candidates, I agree,” Scott wrote. “If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help the Democrats, pipe down. That’s not what leaders do. And Republicans need to be leaders that build up the team and do everything they can to get the entire team over the finish line.”

There’s no mystery because Scott has been on an interview spree telling the media exactly who he intends to get that message.

“Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here … We have great candidates,” he told Politico Wednesday. “He wants to do the same thing I want to do: I want to get a majority. And I think it’s important that we’re all cheerleaders for our candidates.”

“If you trash talk our candidates … you hurt our chances of winning, and you hurt our candidates’ ability to raise money,” Scott said. “I know they’re good candidates, because I’ve been talking to them and they’re working their butts off.” Well, maybe not all of them. JD Vance’s lazy campaign in Ohio has been causing a GOP “freakout,” and Mehmet Oz just can’t seem to stop with the self-owns in Pennsylvania.

Scott has been needling McConnell for months, positioning himself as the outsider (a la Trump) taking it to the establishment. That included bucking McConnell’s attempts to control the message going into this election year by releasing his party platform that is fascist nightmare vision for the nation, and suggests such gems as having Social Security and Medicare legislation expire every five years.

He’s also been talking to McConnell’s chief nemesis, Trump. In fact, Scott met with him this week, apparently trying to pry some money away from him for Senate races. “He endorsed in some of these primaries, clearly cares that the people who he’s endorsed wins. And so I told him, from my standpoint, how he can be helpful. I think he will be,” Scott said.

Meanwhile, some of those endorsees have been running away from Trump and might not be so thrilled with Scott trying to rope them back in.

David Bergstein, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also talked with Politico, and had some fun with the interview. Scott spent a good chunk of his August recess on a luxury yacht in Italy, a decision that had plenty of other Republicans grousing. That provided great fodder for Bergstein. “[W]e know Rick’s been yachting in Europe so we’re happy to catch him up: his flunky candidates are still failing, his party’s position on abortion is still unpopular, and his fellow Republicans are still openly complaining about his self-serving, failed leadership of the NRSC.”

Pretty much. Choosing to escalate his fight with the McConnell just as post-Labor Day election push is set to kick in seems like a pretty misguided strategy. But we’ll take it! More of that infighting, please, Republicans.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

McConnell Fears Low Quality GOP Candidates Will Doom His Senate Majority

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is sounding less than thrilled with the choice of MAGA America in Senate primaries. He’s been left with a “quality” issue, he says.

“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different—they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell told reporters at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday. “Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.”

It is not a 50-50 country. It is a country in which less than one-fifth of the population elects half of the Senate because the Senate is an inherently undemocratic institution. That aside, LOL! “Candidate quality.” LOL!

He kind of does have an issue there, doesn’t he? Take Pennsylvania, where New Jersey transplant Mehmet Oz isn’t just being wholly owned by Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on social media, he’s being owned in the polls. Which might have something to do with New Jersey, crudité, $70 T-shirts, and the fact that he doesn’t know the name of the place where Pennsylvanians do their food shopping or how many houses he owns (10). And Oz just can’t stop himself from digging.

Ohio’s great Republicans hope, J.D. Vance, has all but disappeared from the campaign trail. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan have been trading polling leads in the last few weeks, but the real issue for McConnell and team is that they’re going to have to invest there. The conservative Senate Leadership Fund has been forced to reserve $28 million in ad buys for the final weeks of the campaign. Republicans went into this general election Ohio assuming that Vance wouldn’t require any national funding.

Then there’s Georgia Republican nominee Herschel Walker, who has proven to be such a disaster a Republican PAC is running ads against him. It’s Georgia, which is still definitely not blue, so the polls are tight there. That’s with minimum public exposure of Walker. Just wait until the debates. If Walker finally agrees to them, that is.

It’s not just the opens seats, though. Republicans incumbents aren’t distinguishing themselves, either. Sen. Ron Johnson is trailing Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes by 7 points in a Marquette University Law School released Wednesday, 51-44. Barnes is up 4 points on Johnson in a Fox News poll released Thursday, 49-45. Johnson isn’t doing himself any favors, stubbornly insisting on saying things out loud, in public, where God and everybody can hear how his mind works.

Then there’s Florida, where yet another Fox News poll this week has Sen. Marco Rubio trailing likely Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demmings. Not by a lot, 48 to 44. But that is not where a three-term incumbent wants to be less than three months ahead of an election. It’s not where McConnell wants anyone on his team to be at this point.

Yeah, McConnell’s remarks are about managing expectations. They’re also about reality. He’s got some really problematic candidates, as well as incumbents he’s been battling with for months on messaging. Meanwhile, new voter registration numbers in battleground states are demonstrating just how fired up women are about abortion.

He might be expectation-setting, but he’s right. Republicans do have a quality problem and it is giving him heartburn.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Trump's Late-Night Post-Hearing Rant Targeted 'Disloyal Sleazebag' McConnell

Former President Donald Trump went on a massive tirade late Thursday after the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot concluded their latest public hearing.

Trump ended his night by trashing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as a "disloyal sleaze bag!"

After the committee displayed evidence that Trump did nothing for three hours while watching on TV as rioters stormed the Capitol building, the erstwhile president tried to place blame everywhere but in his own lap.

"Is this the same Mitch McConnell who was losing big in Kentucky, and came to the White House to BEG me for an Endorsement and help?" Trump wrote. "Without me he would have lost in a landslide. A disloyal sleaze bag!" Trump wrote, "I had an election Rigged and Stolen from me, and our Country. The USA is going to Hell. Am I supposed to be happy?"

Before that he wrote, "1. But Crooked Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams, and many others, contested their Elections - and for a far longer time than I. 2. How do they know I watched on T.V.? 3. I never said that to Kevin McCarthy, who came to Mar-a-Lago to say 'hi' very early on (the Unselects don’t say this). So many lies and misrepresentations by the corrupt and highly partisan Unselect Committee!" adding, "Liz Cheney is a sanctimonious loser. The Great State of Wyoming is wise to her. Why not show the tapes, or interview, those that, with evidence, challenge the election?" and then, "It’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault, she turned down the troops! Perhaps she was disengaged - maybe looking for her husband!"

Trump also appears to have been watching CNN's coverage because he lashed out at host Jake Tapper, writing, "Fake Tapper of CNN is so biased and pathetic. No wonder CNN’s ratings are at an all time low! P.S. Almost all Trump Endorsed candidates have won, or are winning!"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Sharp 2014 Growth Proves Right-Wing Predictions Flat Wrong

As 2015 commences, America is moving steadily toward full employment for the first time since a Democrat last occupied the White House, during the Clinton presidency. The past 12 months marked the single strongest year of job increases since 1999, with unemployment down from 7 percent to 5.8 percent. The national economy is currently growing at an annual rate well above 4 percent, the Dow Jones average has surged above 18,000, and consumer confidence has reached its highest level since 2007 – before the onset of the Great Recession.

Although too many Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, and wages have not yet begun to reap the share of productivity that workers deserve, the economic news is nevertheless encouraging – except to the right-wing politicians and pundits whose predictions of recession, joblessness, and generalized doom have been proved entirely wrong.

For years now, the most prominent figures on the American right – from John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to Rush Limbaugh, George Will, and Sean Hannity, along with every right-wing think tank and media outlet – have warned the public that the tax, health care, and spending policies of the Obama administration were killing jobs and wrecking the economy.

Meanwhile, their own agenda of political obstruction and austerity policies did much to harm the economy and employment, especially when they drove debate over the budget and debt ceiling toward the brink of default – and insisted on enormous cuts in spending by the federal, state, and local governments. As recently as last spring, the Republican line recited by Will and Limbaugh — and parroted by Boehner and McConnell — was that Obamacare would surely destroy at least 2 million jobs.

Last February, Boehner’s office tweeted that the Affordable Care Act is “expected to destroy 2.3 million jobs.” On the radio, Limbaugh barked that the implementation of health care reform would cost “2.5 million jobs, minimum,” which he called “a literal tragedy for the country.” In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal agreed that Obamacare is “a job destroyer.” And on Fox News, Charles Krauthammer gloated that this White House unemployment debacle would be “emblazoned on the tombstone of liberalism.”

Overblown rhetoric aside, the 2 million-plus figure came from a Congressional Budget Office report, which the Republicans then distorted beyond recognition to scare and depress the public. But that episode was only one example among many of partisan trash-talking about the economy — a tactic that dates back at least to the first Clinton budget in 1993, when congressional Republicans predicted a severe recession or worse. (They were totally wrong then, too.)

In fact, the deep thinkers at the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute made similarly frightening predictions when President Obama and the Democrats in Congress insisted on letting the Bush tax cuts expire and limiting deductions for the wealthiest taxpayers. A Heritage tax expert said ominously that “we’re going to have a slower-growing economy, we’re going to have fewer jobs, less opportunity for Americans of all income levels.”

Yet while the right-wing doomsaying about Obama and Obamacare continued to amplify right through the midterm elections — with little salutary contradiction from mainstream media — the economy has kept improving until the facts can no longer be ignored. So far, the president has 12 million jobs to his credit and a string of additional accomplishments, including millions of American families now enjoying health insurance — without any detectable damaging impact on prices, growth, or employment.

The question that the country now faces is whether Republican control of both the Senate and the House will encourage still more right-wing debt brinksmanship – or whether McConnell and Boehner can enforce a newfound moderation on their most addled members. Perhaps this time, if Republican mischief hinders full recovery, the public will understand where to lay blame.

The Boehner-McConnell Relationship: Mutual Respect, Low Drama

By Matt Fuller, CQ Roll Call (MCT)

WASHINGTON — John A. Boehner and Mitch McConnell have never been best friends.

But they aren’t enemies, either. Far from it, say staffers and sources who know both lawmakers. The speaker and the Senate’s presumptive new majority leader have built, over the years, a solid professional relationship based on a sturdy sense of mutual respect.

That relationship is in the spotlight now more than ever, with Republicans emboldened in the wake of Tuesday’s wave election that saw the GOP pick up at least eight seats in the Senate and more than a dozen in the House.

Sources told CQ Roll Call that Boehner and McConnell don’t have to be close personally to get things done.

“While they’ve never played horseshoes on the speaker’s lawn, they spend a lot of time together, speak regularly and have demonstrated an unprecedented working relationship between the leaders of the House and Senate,” Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, told CQ Roll Call.

Their staffs also report that Boehner and McConnell meet almost every week the House and Senate are in session, unofficially alternating whose office they meet in. (Aides note their relationship isn’t so rigid that they have to ensure office meeting parity.)

Aides also acknowledge that while they have slightly different styles, they’re on the same page when it comes to substance. A former senior GOP aide familiar with both McConnell and Boehner said they are “two adults in a room that is usually lacking in adults.”

Both are establishment Republicans with pro-business, anti-drama leanings.

Their Capitol offices are separated by a short stroll across the Rotunda, just as their states are separated by the Ohio River. Boehner’s Cincinnati-suburbs district is about 20 miles north of Kentucky — a fact President Barack Obama has occasionally tried to use as leverage against the GOP leaders, dinging them for their opposition to a jobs bill in 2011 that could have provided money to improve the Brent Spence Bridge.

But even though there’s history to the Boehner-McConnell relationship, Tuesday’s elections inevitably alter the dynamic — and raise the stakes enormously for both men.

McConnell has spent much of the past four years bailing Boehner and his Republican Conference out of jams. (Remember the fiscal cliff?) But now, McConnell may need Boehner to return the favor.

While Republican gains in the Senate were greater than many expected, McConnell’s majority is still thin — too thin to beat a Democratic filibuster — and the 2016 elections already loom over McConnell’s delicate majority.

Boehner, on the other hand, has the largest GOP House majority since March of 1929. Finally, he will have the legislative room to ignore some of the untamed conservatives in his own conference without having to beg Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for votes.

Of course, what the House sends the Senate will have to take into account the fragile– and possibly fleeting– Republican majority in the upper chamber. With 24 Republican senators (and only 10 Democrats) facing voters again in two years, Boehner and the House have to be conscious of the votes they force on the vulnerable GOP majority.

That’s where the relationship will be tested. That’s where communication will be key.

But those who know Boehner and McConnell well don’t anticipate problems.

One of Boehner’s most frequent dinner companions, Sen. Richard M. Burr, (R-NC), told CQ Roll Call this week that Boehner and McConnell have worked together “religiously” for years.

And while it may seem like Burr would be a natural intermediary for Boehner and McConnell, he doesn’t think that’ll be necessary.

“I don’t think they need a go-between,” Burr said.

Of those potential, but perhaps unnecessary, go-betweens, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky would also seem like a natural fit.

But in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call, Rogers said that while he was “very hopeful and anxious that Mitch take over the majority leader’s slot,” he wants to see a renewed focus on passing and conferencing appropriations bills “the old-fashioned way.”

He’s more interested in restoring the appropriations process than in serving as an intercessor between the speaker and McConnell.

As Burr said of the legislative relationship between the leaders, “Nobody needs to be involved in that other than the two leaders and their staffs.”

Burr looked at the Republican majorities in both chambers as opportunities for Boehner and McConnell to govern. And while he agreed the House would have to be mindful of what it sends to the Senate, he thought it was more important that Republicans produce legislative results — specifically mentioning a tax overhaul, a repeal of the medical devices tax and legislation forcing the implementation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“We have two years for Republicans in Congress to prove to Americans that they can govern,” he said.

The day after the election, Boehner and McConnell were already trying to present a united front, co-authoring a Wall Street Journal op-ed that laid out the contours of a preliminary agenda in the 114th.

“The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years. As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong,” they wrote.

Of course, Obama still occupies the White House. And anything passed by the House and Senate will still need the president’s signature.

While that prevents Congress from achieving conservative fantasies such as repealing Obamacare, it leaves plenty of smaller items on the margins that Republicans can pressure Democrats and the president with — all the while drawing stark contrasts in advance of the perpetual next election.

Photo: Peter Stevens via Flickr

McConnell Eyes The Prize As Grimes Hopes For Grand Upset

By Niels Lesniewski, CQ Roll Call

MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his backers aren’t taking anything for granted, and Kentucky’s airwaves continue to feature no shortage of advertising, but he’s already starting to look to a future where he runs the Senate.

“I’m certainly hopeful,” the Kentucky Republican said Sunday of the prospects of gaining the six seats needed to flip the chamber. “I think we need to set a new agenda and go in a different direction. A number of you work in Washington, you know the Senate doesn’t do anything any more.

“The American people have seen the do-nothing Senate for four years. I’d think they’d want to go in a different direction on Tuesday night,” said McConnell, who envisions confronting the president on some issues and working with him on others.

He took questions from a small group of reporters after greeting supporters at the end of a veterans’ parade in Madisonville in western Kentucky, riding in the parade just ahead of Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

At times, people seemed more interested in the caravan of Corvettes that preceded them in the parade than the candidates themselves.

Despite polling showing McConnell having a decent to sizable lead, the incumbent Kentucky secretary of state has been barnstorming the state, hopeful for what would be at this point a monumental upset.

The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call has the Kentucky race in the Republican Favored column.

“There are the folks that are going to carry this race home. They’re excited about sending a message to the world that Washington just isn’t working for us, and after 30 years, Mitch McConnell is out of time,” Grimes told reporters on the trail Sunday. “He’s met his match. He’s going to be fired come Nov. 4.”

“The people of this state. They’re going to have the final word, and the energy and momentum that we’ve seen on the ground, it’s been unmatched. The ground game that we have, it’s dynamic. It’s unlike anything Kentucky has ever seen,” Grimes told reporters after a rally with supporters at a hilltop sod farm in Elizabethtown after the parade.

Asked why new polls seem to be trending in his favor both locally and elsewhere, McConnell pointed to President Barack Obama’s unpopularity.

“Well look, I think this election is largely a referendum on the president of the United States. Most people in my state and I hope around the country believe that we need to go in a different direction,” McConnell said. “All I’ve said repeatedly is if you want to go in a different direction, there’s only one thing that can be accomplished in 2014, and that’s to change the Senate and make me the leader of a new majority.”

On both domestic and foreign policy, McConnell sounded familiar themes in looking ahead to the prospects of GOP control.

When asked about the effect of the Senate race on the world stage by a reporter from the BBC, McConnell noted a trend he had picked up on.

“I think a lot of foreign reporters have been coming down here, like yourself, wondering whether America is comfortable with America in decline,” he said. “Hopefully, if the people of this country choose a new majority, it will encourage the president to stop the retreat, basically. That’s what we’ve seemed to have been doing over the last few years.”

He also indicated that a floor vote on tightening potential sanctions against Iran would be on his to-do list.

“I think what we ought to do if we can’t get an acceptable agreement with the Iranians is tighten the sanctions, and in fact we had a bill in the Senate to do that, which the current majority leader wouldn’t allow a vote on,” McConnell said. “Not to stop the talks, but to say at the end of the talks, if there’s no good outcome, then the Iranians would get tougher sanctions.”

Closer to home, McConnell once again pointed to the economic crisis out in Eastern Kentucky coal country as a priority, criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations about power plant emissions.

“We’re going to try to push back against this over-regulation that’s literally put my people out of work,” he said. But, McConnell also knows the reality that Obama will still be in office.

“I think the first thing we ought to do is see whether there are areas of agreement that we can actually make some progress on. You know, divided government is not unusual in the United States. We’ve had it most of the time since World War II. Reagan never had the House. Clinton didn’t have the House or Senate for six of the eight years, and yet they did some significant things,” McConnell said.

If things go his way Tuesday, perhaps McConnell could invite Vice President Joe Biden here to the parade for the next round of deal-making. He does love Corvettes.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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Who Will Win The Senate?

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