September 20th, 2009
11:30 AM ET
9 years ago

McConnell expresses support for Obama on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The top Republican in the Senate had rare praise Sunday for President Obama on a foreign policy issue but continued to challenge the president over the Democratic Party’s plans for health care reform.

“The president enjoys very strong support among Republicans in the Senate for what he’s doing in Afghanistan,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

That said, McConnell also expressed concern Sunday about the apparent delay on the part of the White House and the Pentagon in releasing a troop level assessment in the Afghanistan done by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in the country.

“We’d like to see Gen. McChrystal and Gen. [David] Petraeus come up to Congress like they did during the Iraq [war’s] surge and give us the information about what they’re recommending. We think the time for decision is now.”

McConnell added that if Obama ultimately decided on a change in strategy in Afghanistan or on adding additional troops, the White House would have the support of Senate Republicans.

On health care, McConnell rejected the suggestion that Republicans were trying to block the Democrats’ reform efforts and trying to frustrate Obama’s goal of having a health care reform bill to sign by year’s end.

Instead, McConnell said that he defined Republican success in the reform debate as “stopping and starting over and getting it right. I don’t know anybody in my Republican conference in the Senate who’s in favor of doing nothing on health care. We obviously have a cost problem and we have an access problem.”

While enacting some health care reforms was appropriate, McConnell said Republicans do not favor “a major rewrite of about one-sixth of our economy in the process.”

McConnell also said Democrats should not try to use reconciliation, a procedural maneuver in the Senate for budgetary bills, in order to get a health care reform bill passed with less than the 60 votes usually needed to break a filibuster.

“I think that, that will produce a very, very severe reaction from the American people,” the Kentucky Republican told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

McConnell also weighed in on the recent discussion of whether the president’s race was playing any role in the mounting criticism directed at him by conservatives.

“I certainly agree with the president and disagree with President Carter – that this great national debate has anything whatsoever to do with race,” McConnell said Sunday, “The American people are concerned when they see the government running banks and insurance companies and car companies and now want[s] to, in effect, take over almost 20 percent of our economy – our health care. These are the kinds of things about which there ought to be a very spirited debate and we’re in the process of having that here in this country.”

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. I'll make 'em famous

    "McConnell added that if Obama ultimately decided on a change in strategy in Afghanistan or on adding additional troops, the White House would have the support of Senate Republicans."

    ..Of course no need to debate on this matter..!!!!!


    September 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Juan

    Here goes the Republicans supporting capitalism, and free markets for the rich to get richer. Have a war anywhere anytime to keep the campaign coffers filles by those manufacturers, and employers of all goods, and services needed to keep a war going. Tax for war, but no tax for health care.

    September 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. valwayne

    This is real bipartisanship. When Obama is doing the right thing for the American people he has Republican support even when Obama and his surrogates are attacking them as being UNAMERICAN, EVIL MONGERS, and Racist because they won't go along with his ruinous Obamacare proposal.

    September 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    We should fight to WIN! which is not the way this or the last administration fought this war. You are not an innocent civilian when acting as a human shield or giving refuge in your home for the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. Also the restrictions on use of air power has proven to put our ground forces lives in even greater danger. Al the rules of engagement are a hinderance to getting the job done and done right. Once we start military actions we need to finish the action which for you arm chair generals who have never had a uniform on is to destroy the enemy. The democrats proved this week that they are still the post Viet Nam democrats. You all know what I mean too!

    September 20, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Ken in NC

    When Iraq was going strong, Republicans wanted to pour the money in that hole. Now it is winding down and Afghanistan is the focus, they want to put money into it because all their defense contractors make millions from replacing and repairing destroyed and damaged equipment. That really shows where the Republican's priorities are. They support the President on the war issue as long as they and their cronies make money but will not support him on health issues that will benefit the American People. Even when our troops come home from war damaged and all but destroyed Republicans want to put them out to pasture and tell local governments to handle them. I knew something was making me sick and now I know it was years and years of Republican stew. Yuck.

    September 20, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Scott

    I cant believe that the people have not voted this Mcconnell character out of office. It makes me wonder what this guy has got at stake over there in Afghanistan, '" could it be energy, selling weapons, or war profits. I wished someone would do some good research on this character and expose him. If he wants to continue the war, why don't he do his duty and go to Afganistan and fight himself? Poor guy must be scared himself to serve his country like our military is doing. My fellow Americans; dont listen to this one because he is dangerous for America. Its time for common sense thinking!!!

    September 20, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Simmy

    There's got to be a catch in there somewhere.......McConnell?

    September 20, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Jim

    The republicans have evolved into the most militant military party, that worships the 'golden calf', aka Money and turns its back on fellow Americans in need. You just need to look at New Orleans to see that. Christian based? I think not. Those are not traits of those who truly follow the teachings and example of Jesus.

    For a republican not to support a war measure would be more hypocritical than even they are. McConnell is not siding with the President, he is siding with the military industrial complex that is making billions on the back of middle class an poorer Americans justified by the lie of making America safer. Violence breeds violence. It always has and always will. If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.

    September 20, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    McConnell is almost as sneaky as Grassley. He's not to be trusted one inch. GOP – RIP.

    September 20, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. William in San Jose

    Of course he does, the sands of far-away lands must be watered from time to time with the blood of our youths but for Christ's sake nobody should have an abortion!

    September 20, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. g_fall

    The Republicans love a tough leader when at war and Obama so far has been tough...Keep up the good work with Afghanistan Pres. Obama!

    September 20, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. Shelly

    For the republicans, wars are a source of income...fills many deep pockets of their cronies connected to defense contracting. For example, Cheney and Haliburton.

    War equals money for their wealthy associates.
    Health care is equals benefittingr average/ poor American families, who have No VALUE in their books.

    September 20, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Hugo

    If you want to discover the depth of Obama's beliefs and associations with political networks such as ACORN go to, it is an in depth account of the progressive movement in America by David Horowitz. It is quite revealing as to what our Commander in Chief is all about.

    September 20, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. Angie in PA

    War Mongers the Republicans are this is the only thing they agree with the President about because they are nothing but a bunch of WAR MONGERS! Seems to be the only thing that concerns them!

    September 20, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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