Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, known for years by the hardboiled moniker “Cocaine Mitch,” told community leaders in his hometown Kentucky on Monday that he wants a new nickname to reflect what he plans to do to a slew of far-left progressive policy proposals: “grim reaper.”
McConnell has long framed the upcoming 2020 elections as a referendum on what he has called the “full socialism on display” from prominent Democrat Party members, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and presidential contenders Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris.
On Monday, the longtime incumbent was positioning the Senate as a bulwark to defend capitalism, even in the event President Trump doesn’t win re-election in 2020.
“You pass the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, you have fundamentally changed this country, fundamentally changed it into an unproductive place with significant unemployment and huge problems,” McConnell told supporters in Owensboro, Kentucky. “I don’t want you to think this is just a couple of nutcases running around on the fringe. This is pervasive policy view on the other side.”
McConnell added, according to multiple reports: “If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won’t even be voted on. So think of me as the grim reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass. None of it.”
McConnell brought Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution to a vote in the Senate in March, and it did not secure a single affirmative vote from Democrats, who charged that the the move was a stunt. McConnell later admitted in an interview with Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the vote was indeed “for show.”
But it would be a grave mistake, McConnell warned Monday, to underestimate the threat posted by the “pervasive” rise of socialism.
“We are having a legitimate debate about the virtues of socialism, and I don’t want you to think it’s just a 28-year-old congresswoman from New York,” McConnell said. “This is much broader than that. I’ve got five colleagues in the Senate, five colleagues running for president, who have signed on to the Green New Deal and Medicare For All.”
“Think of me as the grim reaper.”
McConnell has also cautioned that Amy Klobuchar, a relative moderate 2020 Democratic contender who has called for a public option instead of universal Medicare, would similarly destroy the private insurance industry and cause major problems for the health care system.
McConnell, who first became a senator in 1985, is up for reelection in 2020, and he formally launched his campaign last week by emphasizing his work on tax cuts and federal judicial confirmations.
But Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have reportedly sought to recruit a challenger, despite apparent long odds.
Earlier this year, Matt Jones, a Kentucky sports radio personality who has weighed a bid against McConnell, told reporters that he wanted to see a new face in office.
“Somebody in Kentucky has got to step up and do this,” Jones said. “And it will be a huge challenge, this guy is almost impossible to beat, but it’s possible.”
Last month, a campaign to enlist former figher pilot Amy McGrath to run against McConnell began fundraising.
“There is incredible grassroots energy for Amy McGrath to run against Mitch McConnell,” Ryan Aquilina, who runs the Ditch Mitch project, said at the time. “We had one of our best days ever in terms of fundraising, and that proves in no uncertain terms just how much appetite there is for Amy to run and to defeat Mitch McConnell.”