Sen. Mitch McConnell’s goal for decades has been to be selected as Senate Majority Leader. His self-stated “No. 1 goal” over the past two years has been to defeat President Obama’s re-election campaign. These two goals may very well butt heads over the next month.
While Republicans once looked like a shoe-in to take back the Senate majority (even as late as this summer), Democratic Senate candidates in almost a dozen states have suddenly surged past or even with their GOP opponent. This surge just so happened to occur almost simultaneously with Mitt Romney’s dive in the polls in his race against Obama a month ago.
Whether this dive was due to a Democratic convention bounce, the presence of Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as we know it, or Romney’s infamous 47 percent tape, GOP Senate candidates in blue states and swing states have tanked along with Romney, particularly in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Instead of Republicans easily picking up four seats and the majority, they now might very well lose seats.
So how might McConnell’s pitch change over the next month? Here’s a possible preview from Jim Carroll’s C-J article this weekend, when downplaying Romney’s negative effect of GOP senate candidates:
McConnell, however, said the coattails effect is overstated.
Senate races “tend to be statewide, stand-alone contests,” he said. “Every state is different, every opponent is different.”
In his pitches to donors, McConnell said he promises that Republicans “are trying to change the country.”
“Our view is, (Obama) has done a very poor job,” the senator said. “Virtually everything he did that was wrong was when he had overwhelming (Democratic) support in Congress during the first two years of his presidency. … It’s appropriate to ask now: how did that work out? The spending, the debt, the takeover of health care, the nationalization of the student loan business, bureaucrats on steroids running roughshod over American business.
“I’m pretty confident the American people are not going to go back to 2009 and 2010 and let the other side have total control of the government,” McConnell said.
Total control? While an effective pitch for GOP candidates, that assumes Romney is not going to win.
McConnell will likely be barnstorming/fundraising for Republican Senate candidates over the next month, and it will be interesting to see if McConnell’s pitch for these candidates is the need to set up an effective senate firewall against another Obama term in the White House.
Those No. 1 goals tend to be quite adaptable, depending on the circumstances.