Conservative Group Mobilizes Against McConnell on Obamacare

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to reporters as lawmakers moved toward resolving their feud over filibusters of White House appointees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. 
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
Aug. 16, 2013, 8:19 a.m.

A con­ser­vat­ive group is ready­ing a statewide ad cam­paign that at­tacks Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell for fail­ing to back the push to de­fund Pres­id­ent Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law, even if that means shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment.

In a fun­drais­ing e-mail to sup­port­ers Fri­day with the sub­ject line “Mc­Con­nell Sur­renders to Re­id on Obama­care,” the Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund ac­cused Mc­Con­nell of “wav­ing the white flag.” The group told its back­ers that it needs to raise $50,000 in the com­ing days for “a statewide me­dia cam­paign in Ken­tucky to ex­pose Mc­Con­nell’s re­cord on this is­sue and to per­suade him to lead the fight.”

The group said it wants Mc­Con­nell to “feel the heat.” The move comes only weeks after a tea-party chal­lenger, Matt Bev­in, jumped in­to the race in an at­tempt to un­seat the vet­er­an sen­at­or from Ken­tucky in 2014.

The Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund, which was cre­ated by former Sen. Jim De­Mint, R-S.C., who now runs the Her­it­age Found­a­tion, has not made an en­dorse­ment in the Mc­Con­nell race but has flir­ted with back­ing his chal­lenger. The group spent mil­lions on the 2012 elec­tions.

In an in­ter­view, Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Matt Hoskins said the drive to de­fund the health care law is of crit­ic­al im­port­ance. And he ac­cused Mc­Con­nell, who has not backed the ef­fort, of try­ing to thwart the work of oth­ers be­hind the scenes.

“This is­sue is a ma­jor test for Mitch Mc­Con­nell, and he has failed con­ser­vat­ives time and time again,” Hoskins said. “And if he fails them again on this is­sue — the most im­port­ant is­sue — then I think a lot of people in Ken­tucky and across the coun­try are go­ing to want an al­tern­at­ive.”

Lead­ers of the drive to de­fund Obama­care, by vot­ing against any gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill that in­cludes money for the law, in­clude Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah,and Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, as well as Mc­Con­nell’s fel­low Ken­tucki­an, Sen. Rand Paul, who says it’s a good way to shift the de­bate. Many in Con­gress have said it is not a feas­ible tac­tic, giv­en that Obama is in the White House, Demo­crats con­trol the Sen­ate, and the GOP would likely get the blame for a gov­ern­ment shut­down. Mc­Con­nell re­cently said that a shut­down would not stop the law.

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