McConnell Hit for Debt Ceiling Votes

Photograph by Larry Downing/Pool via Bloomberg

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, second left, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, make their way to the front of the chamber ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Updated at 10:02 am EST

A new web ad out today accuses Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the chief Republican architect of the last several accords raising the debt ceiling, of voting “like a Democrat” on fiscal issues.

The ad from the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by former South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint that’s helped elect Tea Party-backed senators, blasts McConnell for working with Vice President Joe Biden to negotiate the Jan. 1, 2013 fiscal cliff deal and for supporting legislation ending the 16-day partial government shutdown in October.

“If he wants to vote like a Democrat, he can become a Democrat,” the ad’s announcer says, as images of McConnell alongside Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama appear in the background.

The ad claims that McConnell’s “ideology is power,” adding, “It’s why McConnell has voted to raise the debt limit 10 times.”

McConnell, who has drawn fire from Democrats for saying in 2010 that Republicans’ top priority was making Obama a one-term president, has refused to say whether he would support legislation the Senate is tentatively scheduled to consider today raising lifting the federal debt cap through March 2015, four months after the November midterms.

“We’ll see how it plays out in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters yesterday.

The ad assault arrives as McConnell faces re-election opposition from two flanks — from within his own party and from a Democratic candidate. Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, McConnell’s opponent in the state’s May 20 party primary. The winner will face Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in the November general election.

The ad cites a Jule 2013 National Review article claiming that McConnell’s camp used back-channels to dissuade Bevin from running, charging that the minority leader is “trying to bully and intimidate conservatives.”

McConnell’s campaign struck back this morning, asserting that the ad was motivated by a Politico report yesterday indicating that Bevin had written investors in 2008 characterizing the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the government’s $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program as “positive developments.”

“They found out yesterday that their endorsed candidate is significantly to the left of Senator McConnell on virtually every issue so we don’t blame them for acting irrationally,” said McConnell campaign spokesman Allison Moore. “Actual conservatives would realize they made a mistake by endorsing Matt Bevin when it was revealed that he’s a con-man but this group has money to make.”

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