Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell smacked at the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), saying that the group that is backing his primary challenger — and primary challengers to several other GOP senators — is “giving conservatism a bad name.”
In an interview with The Weekly Standard posted Friday, McConnell attacked SCF as an organization that was more interested in its personal gains than in influencing politics.
“I think it’s important to remember a couple things. No. 1, the Senate Conservatives Fund started the fight with me. They picked the fight — I didn’t,” McConnell said.
“A group that buys a luxury townhouse on Capitol Hill that has a hot tub and a wine cellar strikes me as a group primarily interested in doing well for themselves,” he went on. “We know their business model is only to criticize Republicans, ignoring the fact with their donors that we have a Democratic Senate and that Barack Obama is in the White House.”
SCF is backing McConnell’s primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, and has been relentlessly attacking the minority leader. On Friday, they sent an email to supporters attacking McConnell for comments he made to The New York Times in an interview last week in which he said, ““I think we are going to crush them everywhere. I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”
The Times wrote that he was “referring to the network of activist organizations working against him and two Republican incumbents in Kansas and Mississippi while engaging in a handful of other contests.” In the SCF attack, that turned into, “his goal is to defeat conservative candidates across the country.”
McConnell told The Weekly Standard that he was referring specifically to SCF, and no other group.
“[T]hat’s the group that I singled out,” he said. “I’m a fan of the enthusiasm that the tea party movement writ large has brought to our country.”
McConnell suggested that SCF was backing candidates who could not win in a general election, which could prevent Republicans from flipping the six seats they need to take control of the Senate.
“I think it’s important to remind everybody that only winners make policy, losers go home. We’ve lost four or five seats in the last two cycles with candidates who regretfully simply couldn’t get elected in a general election contest,” he said.
Asked for comment, SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins took shot back: “Mitch McConnell doesn’t care that we rent a townhouse for office space. He is upset that we support Matt Bevin and are running ads that expose his record of helping the Democrats pass bailouts, more debt, higher taxes, and funding for Obamacare.”*
*This post has been updated with Hoskins’ response.