McConnell wants Obama to change not fail; cautions GOP against overconfidence

11/06/2010 04:25 PM

(With video) ELIZABETHTOWN — Despite big wins for Republicans in Kentucky and nationally on Tuesday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said cautioned state GOP activists on Saturday against over celebrating.

“Let me start by saying the appropriate action to last Tuesday is not spiking the ball in the endzone,” McConnell told the crowd of 80 a meeting of the state party’s central committee at the Elizabethtown Best Western. McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator, noted that Democrats still control the U.S. Senate 51-47 with two independents and the White House.

And McConnell also poked fun of the mini-firestorm he created before the election with his comments to the National Journal suggesting that Republicans’ to political goal for the next two years should be making sure Obama was a one-term president.

“It was hard not to laugh out loud that some people were offended at the thought that I would suggest that the Republican leader of Senate might want a Republican president in 2012,” McConnell said to applause. “But I’ll say this about the president, I don’t want him to fail, I want him to change. And that’s what Tuesday’s election was about.”

He encouraged the president to “change and listen to the American people,” saying that it was “not too late” for Obama to work with Republicans on key issues.

McConnell ended his speech by warning Republicans that they will only continue to gain seats and move forward by listening to independents.

McConnell also said that health care reform served as a symbol of the Democratic agenda over the last two years that helped motivate voters to choose Republicans on Tuesday. And he again called for the repeal of the health care reform law, adding that if that didn’t work Congress should repeal the bill piece-by-piece.

Last weekend, McConnell told cn|2 Politics that Republicans should have their own ideas for how to revamp the health care system but declined to say what those would be or whether a plan exists.

McConnell also said the six seats Republican gained in the U.S. Senate should be celebrated but that one was more important than all the others. He was referring to the race to replace U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky’s junior senator.

Republican Rand Paul won by nearly 12 percentage points over Democrat Jack Conway to keep the seat in Republican hands. And McConnell said the idea of sitting next to Conway was a “disturbing thought.”

Paul, meanwhile, did not attend the meeting. He is taking several days off. He sent his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, to address the GOP activists Saturday.

-Reporting and videos produced by Kenny Colston

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