Republican Senate camps paint dueling portraits of McConnell ahead of fiscal showdowns in D.C.

09/17/2013 05:58 PM

With fiscal debates looming in Washington, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager and McConnell’s GOP primary opponent painted vastly different portraits of the senator’s role in representing conservatives in those fights on Tuesday.

Appearing at a Constitution Day event at the University of Kentucky, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said McConnell is ready to represent conservatives in negotiations over the continuing resolution on the federal budget and the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling.

“We are going to have to get some serious concessions and some fixes to some serious problems,” Benton said.

McConnell’s primary opponent, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, said he is begging McConnell use the debt ceiling debate as an opportunity to lead the fight against implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Bevin said he would be in favor of raising the debt ceiling — if defunding the health care law were part of the deal.

To blunt some of the attacks from within his own party on the Affordable Care Act issue, McConnell recently put out an ad shifting his messaging to Obamacare and introduced an amendment that would delay the implementation of the law for a year for individuals as it has been for businesses.

But Bevin said the legislation being re-introduced by McConnell is nothing more than “gamesmanship.”

“Why not get behind something that actually has the chance to succeed? Why not support defunding this which is not a repeal,” Bevin said.

Benton, however, said the campaign is looking beyond Bevin and the primary and straight to November and the general election, where McConnell’s campaign is anticipating facing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fundraising for Grimes in the coming weeks. The Republicans argue that puts Grimes in line with the message of Reid who has said “coal makes us sick”.

Grimes released a statement Tuesday expressing her concern over the Obama administration’s policies on coal and calling on the President to “do the right thing on coal”. Grimes however did not offer any specifics on what the right thing to do on coal would be.

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