February 28th, 2010
10:25 AM ET
10 years ago

McConnell on midterms: 'Obviously, we're optimistic'

[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.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

Filed under: 2010 • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Senate • State of the Union • Tea Party movement
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Independent One

    I think there will be alot of surprised folks come Nov. including repubs

    February 28, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. Perusing-through


    I watched President Obama's Summit with an open mind. It was clear to any unbiased and Independent voter that the Republicans had NO reasonable solution to help 35-million hardworking middle-class folks to secure decent quality health coverage. GOP proposals covered only a tiny fraction at best.

    The problem for Republicans is their political philosophy. GOP philosophy is that health coverage is a privilege for the rich, and for Congressmen & Senators in the U.S. Legislature. Not for hardworking tax-paying middle-class Americans.

    February 28, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. stormerF

    How will an American Tax payer,Vote for a Politican who supports unfair advantage for some states over others. Like the 100 million for a Hospital in Connecticut? or The 300 million for Louisiana? Maybe the 800,000 seniors in Florida who get their Medicae Advantage over the other 49 states Seniors?,,How will you vote for a politican that has to use bribery to get votes for a health care bill,that is suppose to be so great?... WHo will pay for it?..The Drug companies who get a special deal,where Medicare recipents can not use generic drugs till 12 years after they hit the market,Or pay for them out of pocket? will they pay? NO.

    February 28, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. GI Joe

    I think old turtle face needs to think again. The democrats and independents sit and watch and learn - we don't need to be loud and boisterous and obnoxious and spread hate and fear.

    Deal with it Mr. Old White Republican.

    February 28, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Lawrence

    Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the Democrats will enlist the aid of every state and government employee and every union member to retain control. Those are the very constitutents that are bankrupting every state, city, and town with their lifetime pensions and benefits which average 25-100 times the amount of wages and benefits they got while working. When a 6 year city employee in Massachusetts making $42,000 a year gets fired and is awarded lifetime free medical coverage for her family which will cost the city $1,000,000, it does not take a mental giant to do the math and realize the current benefit system which the Democrats wish to continue to stay in office will rather quickly bankrupt a good number of cities, towns, and states. Democrats who rely on the support of these union and public sector folks lack the courage to make the required changes for fear of losing the very support that keeps them in office. Such is current foundation on which the Democratic party is built, and how it has survived. Dems make a public pitched battle against Wall Street bonues if $100,000 when this is ja small % of the cost of the union wokers. The Democrats would rather stay in office; and take us all down with the ship rather than tell the truth and do the right thing – and stop the madness.

    We need a different political landscape at the federal and State level other than the GOP and Dems – we tried unsuccessfully the Independent Party, the Green Party, the socialist party and the Libertarian Party. It is time for a new approach – perhaps the Term Limit Party; or maybe the NO UNIONS IN GOVERNMENT PARTY

    February 28, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Matt

    "we need to be doing the people’s business"

    Which part of "the people's business" have you been doing the last year and a half, Mitch? Your party has consistently ensured that essentially *no* business is done in Congress, and some of your colleagues even have the audacity to complain about missing a basketball game to carry out the "Party of NO" ideology.

    I can't wait to see the ads this election season though – it should be interesting to see how one party can simultaneously propose eliminating Medicare (via the Ryan budget) and claim that the *other* party wants to "kill Grandma" by reducing subsidies to private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program.

    Ditto for whining about the deficit after the disastrous Bush tax cuts and the unfunded Medicare drug bill (not to mention the wars...). And I'm sure we'll see Dana "there were no terror attacks during the Shrub years" Perino trotted out again, to much amusement.

    February 28, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    “If the election were today, we’d have a very good day,” said McConnell.

    BUT, the election IS NOT today and come November, the American people will realize that YOU – the party of NO – was the cause of the delay on HEALTH CARE and it is YOU who continuously go against whatever President Obama is trying to do to bring the economy back.

    Come November, it will all be clear that – the insurance companies CANNOT deny you because of pre-existing illnesses; the insurance company CANNOT raise your insurance premiums or create a CAP on the amount of insurance you can utilize; more people, who may include YOU because you lost your job – will now be insured and I can go on.

    The RepubliCAN'Ts sold the idea that Reconciliation is not good for this bill. Most Americans DO NOT know what Reconciliation is??? When it is figured out – the American people would also realize that Reconciliation was used MANY times in the past by BUSHwack and the REPUKES were all for it – Hmm, CUTTING TAXES FOR THE RICH – REMEMBER???

    COME November – the American people will all know who to vote for!!!!!!!!

    February 28, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    I sure both sides will love bashing each other over this, but the truth is there is no difference if you vote Democrat or Republican Liberal or Conservative. We will get the same we have always received from big brother, the people who can attract the billions required to be elected are not getting that money from the people. Both of these parties are bought and paid for by the Special interest groups, PACs, Unions, Wall Street, banking, global Corporations are all contributing billions to re-election funds that undermine the people's representation
    I say in 2010 ask who is funding your representative? Look to see where the money is coming from? If the money comes from outside your district then who do you think they will represent if they are elected or re-elected? We need to bring these professional politicians back into line.
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    February 28, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Mr Joshua

    I concur with Independent one, A whole lot of politicians are going to be shown the door. Thanks to the Liberal leadership, More Democrats than Republicans I would wager but the Republicans are not going to be smiling either.

    February 28, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Donkey Party

    Some folks are critical of me when I say we need to exterminate Conservatism and it's rabid following. When the Right-wing plays politics by refusing to extend help to the unemployed, when they make it easier for corporations to fund their brand of candidates and distorted policies, and when they deny Americans health-care that leads to the deaths of 45,000 annually, It is clearly evident that the Right-wing hates middle and lower-class America. They want me dead, why wouldn't I want the same of them?

    February 28, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. joe smith

    republicans may feel a little smug, but, just like the other party, no one is safe this time, because all of you are ineffective, change, for change sake is not where its' at; change for Americas' survival is at stake here..

    February 28, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Adalbert

    The republicans may not fooled as many people as they think.

    February 28, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |

    McConnell, YOU LIE.

    February 28, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |

    Please do not call him old turtle face. it degrades the turtle.

    February 28, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Elizabeth

    Republicans are bragging about saying no to giving Americans quaility healthcare while we, the taxpayers, pay for them to have the best healthcare in the US. They might want to rethink that optimism.

    February 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  16. Steven in Charleston

    Mr. McConnell,

    You need to understand that our frustration with some of what the Obama Administration is trying to do, as well as our frustration with the lack of progress in several key areas (in which you share the blame) does NOT mean that the American People will willingly vote to return to the failed policies of the past. Your party brought our nation perilously close to the brink of economic ruin, and have been deliberately destroying the middle-class for decades. Return to THAT? We're not that stupid.

    February 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. Jim

    "we need to be doing the people’s business" Good idea MItch. When does the GOP intend to start?

    February 28, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Anthony

    There has not been an increase in the federal income tax in the US since 1993 and even then it was only on the top 5%. WE Americans have become a bunch of spoiled brats. Just running up debt becuase they dont want to pay for anything the gov does, and do not really want to give up the things that cost big money, like defense and medicare. So the dollar will fall and things will suck. Adjust! You want no government and no taxes check out somaia. LOL The healthcare plan Obama put forward is the same plan Bob dole and John Mccain ran on, but now rupublicans are against it because Obama would get credit for it. Its not a government takeover at all, it a complete sell out to the republican ideas and they still refuse to vote for it. They have nothing to offer except, "open an savings account to pay your medical bills". Who will that help, and how does that reduce costs????

    February 28, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. jeff fastov

    The party of no and its followers want the poor people poorer so they are easier to control until there is a revolution.they like unemployment so they vote no to continue benefits.See unemployed workers will take any job that they throw at you at whatever non living wage there is .They want people desperate.all they are catering to are the elite ,the greedy ,the big corporations,and the bigoted. it is a pity they will fool independants with there small government philosophy. The 8 years under Bush saw the goverment grow. Just in different places.They used reconciliation and now it is a dirty word.they are very smart in there strategy just to see the current administration fail.after the midterms when they take control ,people will see the only solutions they really have are ones to let the rich get richer and we all saw that it didn,t trickle down.

    February 28, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |

    Republicans are bragging about saying no to giving quality healthcare to the American people, while they continue to receive excellent healthcare paid by taxpayers. They might want to rethink their optimism.

    February 28, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. Pedro

    Just look at how smug this guy is thinking that even though the GOP played the fundamental role in getting this nation into this mess through the deregulation of banking and the markets, they have managed to hoodwink the average American into believing that they had nothing to do with it deserve to regain some aspect of control. NO THANKS.

    February 28, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. jerseyfinfan

    Quality health care and government health care are mutually exclusive.

    February 28, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. jerseyfinfan

    I love when the libs call the GOP the Party of No. No is sometimes necessary. When your toddling daughter is about to place to place her hand on a burning stove, do you tell her "No" or do you tell yourself that doing so would be obstructionist.

    February 28, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. bts

    If everyone is on CRACK/METH then Republicans will gain control. Seriously, what have the Repubs done for America ? They have bragging rights for nothing but SHAME!

    February 28, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. JohnRJ08

    Look at this turtle-faced politician sitting there with his self-satisfied expression, knowing that any optimism he might have is based solely on the effectiveness of the most massive misinformation campaign in the history of US politics. Only Joseph Goebbels had a better fear-mongering machine working for him. Using President Obama's health care reform agenda, the Republican Party has intentionally misrepresented the facts about the bills and effectively frightened half the electorate into believing it is a socialist conspiracy to take-over of all health care in this country that will increase their premiums and pull the plug on their grandparents. Then, the Republicans use the results of the polls, which were driven by the private insurance industry's $2 million per day campaign to scare the public about the changes that health care insurance so desperately needs in the United States. Mitch McConnell has forsaken the good of the American people, not to mention his own constituency, for political gain.

    February 28, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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