Politics & Policy

McConnell Says GOP Will Be ‘Firewall Against Socialism’ in 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media on Capitol Hill, February 12, 2019. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that the U.S. needs a “referendum on socialism” in the 2020 congressional elections and that the Republican Party will be on the front lines against it.

“We need to have a referendum on socialism,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters. “I’m going to be arguing, and I’m encouraging my colleagues to argue, that we are the firewall against socialism in this country.”

Republicans will have to defend 22 Senate seats in 2020, compared to the Democrats’ 12 seats.

“If you’re uncomfortable with things like the Green New Deal and Medicare for none, the best way to avoid that is to have a Republican Senate,” McConnell said.

Six senators who have thrown their hat in the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination have thrown their support behind the Green New Deal: Senators Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Meanwhile, all of those presidential candidates except for Klobuchar have sponsored Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, although they have not all called for the effective end of the private health insurance market, as the Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist has done.

Klobuchar, who tends right of her opponents for the Democratic nomination, has pushed instead for an optional buy-in to a government health care plan, saying she is “looking at something that will work now” rather than later.

“If we can’t make that case, we ought to go into another line of work,” McConnell said.

The GOP lost their House majority in 2018 but added two seats to their Senate majority.

“We got crushed in the suburbs,” the Senate leader said.

“There’s no good reason for your typical suburban resident to be frightened by this Republican Senate,” he said. “I think we’re the safeguard or, put another way, the firewall against a bunch of people who are in a totally different mindset.”

The Senate leader said he is encouraging Republicans defending their seats in 2020 to run “independent campaigns” to appeal to their respective constituents rather than paint themselves as identical to the national part or President Trump.

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