McConnell Predicts 'A Very Competitive Race This Fall'; Calls Deficits a 'Persistent Problem'

By Susan Jones | February 12, 2020 | 6:18am EST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters on Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo: Screen capture)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters on Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - Despite a post-impeachment bump in the polls for Republicans, they are not "resting on laurels," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

"No, I don't think there is any resting on laurels," McConnell said in response to a reporter's question:

This is going to be a very competitive race this fall not only for the presidency but for the Senate as well. I do think the Democrats had a really bad experience the last three weeks; it underscores why the speaker was reluctant to go down that path to begin with.

She and I both remember that in 1999 we impeached President Clinton; his approval rating went up, and ours went down, and if you look at the only thing that dominated the news for the last three weeks and then compare that to the president's highest approval rating since he has been in office -- and I can tell you in all of our competitive Senate races they are in better shape today than they were a month ago.

I think you would have to conclude from this episode that we won and they lost.

Now that is not to say what the long-term impact will be. I think there are many things that will occur between now and the fall, but the one thing that all of our--all of my colleagues have emphasized here today, that I think gives us a strong wind going into the fall election, is the state of the economy. It is really not in dispute that things are in excellent shape. We expect that to continue through the election year and to be a positive for the administration and for the Senate majority.

Another reporter challenged McConnell on the "excellent" economy:

"Are you concerned about such high deficits in such a good economy and the long-term impact that it has especially on whoever the next president and the next Congress are?" the reporter asked.

"Yes, I mean this has been a persistent problem no matter who has been in power," McConnell replied.

It is no question that the deficit has increased dramatically.

During my period as the leader of the minority, I actually was involved in the Budget Control Act, which is the first time since the Korean War that we actually reduced spending for a couple of years, but then there was, of course, the inevitable pressure on both sides -- on our side, to increase military spending; on their side, to increase domestic spending.

It is a problem. There is no question about it, and I think it is something that neither side, whether we've had divided government or unified government, have been able to successfully address and it's a problem.

Asked if he expects to bring a budget resolution to the Senate floor, McConnell said, "I can't imagine that we could reach an agreement on a budget with this particular House of Representatives." He pointed to a two-year deal on budget caps negotiated last year. "It is good for second year, and we will comply with that."

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