[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/28/art.mitch0228.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. McConnell pointed to recent GOP victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts as reasons for optimism about his party's prospects in November."]
Washington (CNN) – The top Republican in the Senate suggested Sunday that his party will likely face a favorable political environment in November’s midterm elections.
“Obviously we’re optimistic,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked whether he thought his party would pick up Senate seats later this year. “I think the elections in Virginia and New Jersey and particularly Massachusetts were encouraging. But, in the meantime, we need to be doing the people’s business and not trying to predict what the environment may be in November.
“If the election were today, we’d have a very good day,” said McConnell.
Like many leading Republicans in Congress have done recently, McConnell also sought to embrace the Tea Partiers, a conservative grassroots movement that has sometimes clashed with the GOP in the last year.
Asked by CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley whether the movement helps Republicans in every case, McConnell responded: “It’s an indication of the energy out in the country. A lot of people, principally driven by this outrageous federal debt that we have, are energized and want to change the country. Most of them are going to be participating in Republican primaries.
“I think that energy will be beneficial to us,” the Kentucky Republican added.
The Tea Party movement marked its first anniversary on Saturday; on that date last year a number of protests against the expanding reach of the federal government where held across the country. As the movement has grown over the past year, both the GOP and the conservative activists who are the driving force behind the movement have struggled to define their relationship with one another, with the GOP becoming increasingly concerned that the Tea Party movement could hurt Republican candidates in November if Tea Partiers formed a third party or decided to back independent candidates.
Earlier on State of the Union, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted that Democrats would retain the majority in her chamber.
“I'm not yielding one grain of sand, we're fighting for every seat,” Pelosi said about the midterms.
“We've been working hard, now we have to go out. We said we were going to do certain things, we did them. Now we have to go talk about what we have done,” Pelosi said about how her party plans to handle the increasingly tough political environment it is likely to face later this year.
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