Massie gives faint praise to McConnell but won't tell the tea party to back off

02/04/2013 05:41 PM

Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie said he respects the tough job U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has in the U.S. Senate but stopped short of saying whether he wants to see tea party groups back off their threats of challenging McConnell in a GOP primary next year.

Massie, who represents Kentucky’s 4th District in Northern Kentucky, said on Pure Politics Friday that McConnell has done a “fairly good job” serving as the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate and that other more moderate Republican Senators are doing a “far worse job.” (3:10 of the first video below.)

But he said it’s not his role to send a message to tea party groups, who have expressed interest in finding a challenger to McConnell in the 2014 GOP primary. A dozen tea party groups from across Kentucky signed a statement last month saying they hoped to find a challenger to McConnell.

“I don’t send a message to tea party groups, they send a message to me,” said Massie, who told Politico he wouldn’t challenge McConnell.

He declined to say whether he wanted to see McConnell go unchallenged in the primary. But Massie appeared friendly with McConnell Friday evening at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Spencer County. And Massie’s name is among co-sponsors of a fundraiser for McConnell’s re-election this Friday in Prospect, according to event invitations.

Here’s that segment of the interview with Massie:

Massie also answered questions about the approach he has taken since joining Congress in November, including why he voted against House Speaker John Boehner and several key financial measures.

Politico, last month, dubbed Kentucky Massie “Mr. No” after he voted for nearly all the bills the U.S. House took up since Massie replaced Geoff Davis in Congress on Nov. 12.

Among the most recent “no” votes was one against a bill to push back the debate over raising the debt ceiling until May.

Massie said he doesn’t believe the U.S. government would be at risk of defaulting if the government bumped up against that ceiling. He said there would be enough money to pay off the interest on the debt and key programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. He said interest only makes up $200 billion of the more than $3 trillion budget.

According to the U.S. Treasury, the United States paid nearly $360 billion in 2012 in interest payments but monthly payments ranged from $12 billion to $95 billion.

NASA was one of the programs Massie said he’d be willing to see go without money in the event of hitting the debt ceiling. Massie was just named chairman of the technology subcommittee that deals with the space program.

Massie said on Pure Politics in August that he believes innovation comes from private industry — not government.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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