Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell insisted Thursday that the Iraq war is "winding down," one of the most positive statements yet by a congressional leader.
It comes as Democrats are launching another attempt at pulling combat troops out of Iraq. In response, McConnell told CNN Radio that Democrats are making a mistake.
"The war is winding down. Next year's election is going to be about this Congress and what it failed to do," McConnell said in his Capitol office.
The Kentucky senator pointed to recent newspaper reports of lower death tolls and insisted there will be "fewer and fewer troops in Iraq, fewer and fewer casualties, more and more ... return to normalcy."
He spoke to a handful of reporters on the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a proposal to temporarily fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and set the goal of pulling U.S. combat troops out of Iraq in a year.
A similar bill passed Congress in May but was vetoed and killed. The latest effort could meet a similar fate as Democrats show no sign that they have gained the votes to override the president's block.
Republicans are salivating over the chance to make Democrats appear obsessed with a single topic.
"I think it's bad politics," McConnell said. " His thoughts echo points raised by other Republicans in and out of Congress as they launch a counteroffensive. But McConnell's assessment that the war is "winding down" was among the most positive.
At the same time, Democrats insist the war is a continued disaster.
"This is not working, it's a war without end," said Pelosi. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We must reverse it."
– CNN Radio's Lisa Desjardins