WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite crushing defeats in the last two elections, Senate Republicans have new "energy and enthusiasm" aimed at winning back the majority, says their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Why the turnaround?
"President Bush had become extremely unpopular, and politically he was sort of a millstone around our necks in both '06 and '08," McConnell said in a roundtable with reporters Friday. "We now have the opportunity to be on offense, offer our own ideas and we will win some."
Many of those ideas get presented as amendments to Democratic bills which, though usually defeated, can still draw attention to GOP policy alternatives and often force Democrats to take difficult votes.
"They become the way you chart the course for a comeback," McConnell said. "Which in this country, always happens at some point."
"The pendulum swings," he said.
Interestingly, McConnell said many of the clever ideas for amendments come from conservative think tanks and other Republican thinkers off Capitol Hill.
"Newt Gingrich, for example, has an idea a minute. Many of those are quite good. Many of those become amendments," he said.
McConnell also said he doesn't mind the "party of no" label congressional Democrats and the White House try to pin on Republicans.
"I don't feel anyone should be apologetic for opposing a bad idea," McConnell said. "I'm not fearful of an effort to demonize dissent," he said.