Mitch McConnell Wants Kentucky Senate Race to Focus on Obamacare Woes
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell reiterated his call to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and predicted Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes will run away from the law.
The GOP leader made the remarks at a press conference at his campaign headquarters on Tuesday, where McConnell made it clear that he wants Kentucky's 2014 Senate race to focus on the president's health care law.
For the past six weeks the Obamacare rollout has been plagued by a malfunctioning enrollment website and reports of canceled insurance plans.
Reports have found about 280,000 Kentuckians will lose their current coverage due to the law.
State officials say those people won't be dropped altogether, but rather will receive offers for alternative plans where their insurance costs could go down or increase depending on the individual case.
Its those sort of troubles that have put Democrats from more conservative states on their heels as GOP lawmakers are becoming re-energized thanks to its rocky implementation.
McConnell predicted Grimes will follow the line of Democratic incumbents in red states such as Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and run away from the president's law.
"The panic has set in and the troops are restless," he says. "And on a daily basis you will see some Democrat in some red state distance themselves from Obamacare. So I would say that my opponent is keep(ing) an eye on Mary Landrieu. And whatever Mary Landrieu does, you can expect my opponent to likely do either that day or the next day."
The senator also outlined what he called a more "scalpel" approach compared to the president's "meat ax," favoring reforms that would allow for more competition across state borders.
Asked about the over 7,000 individuals who have already signed up for new health care plans through the state's exchange program, McConnell said plainly lawmakers need to start over.
National observers recognize that Obamacare is a threat to Democrats next year, including their majority in the Senate.
In a candid moment, McCOnnell told reporters that was all that he wanted to discuss at Tuesday's press conference even in the face of polling numbers that show his popularity waning and that the Kentucky race is tightening.
"I’m probably not going to be answering questions about anything else, but I’m happy to respond to questions about Obamacare," McConnell said. "As some of you have complained from time to time that I don’t do a stake out after every event and I’m not going to do a stake out after every event because as you can imagine I prefer the news of that day to be what I’d like for it to be rather than what you all may be interested in pursuing."
McConnell campaign aides argue that as a challenger Grimes has never submitted her candidacy to the sort of grilling about a specific policy position the senator does.
Grimes has been criticized for a lack of in-depth interviews with reporters and skirting important issues when confronted on the campaign trail. But she is hoping to make 2014 largely a referendum on McConnell's leadership, as a recently released campaign memo outlined.
Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton says they believe Congress can help remedy parts of the law but that going backwards to where people were denied coverage for pre-existing conditions is a non-starter.
"As Alison has said for months, there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed," says Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton. "She has called for an extension of the grandfather period to allow the people of Kentucky to keep their current plans, as well as an extension of the enrollment period and mandate delay for all Americans until the federal website is fixed. In clear contrast to McConnell, Alison continues to listen to Kentuckians for solutions—not Washington."