Conservative group says McConnell doing "nothing" to stop Obamacare

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters in Washington, D.C.
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is doing "nothing" to stop Obamacare, an influential conservative organization complained in a new TV ad, urging the Senate's top Republican to show "real leadership" by going to the mat in defunding the health care law.

"McConnell's the Republican leader, but he refuses to lead on defunding Obamacare," charged the ad from the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), a well-funded outside group pushing Republican senators to fall in line behind a strategy to undo the law.

"What good is a leader like that?" The ad asked. "It's nice that McConnell voted against Obamacare, but we need real leadership to stop it now."

The ad will air between September 6 and 17 on network and cable TV stations across Kentucky, and it is backed by a $340,000 ad buy, according to the group.

The current resolution funding the government expires at the end of September. Some Republicans, led by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., are pushing their colleagues to use that deadline to force Congress to defund Obamacare, even if it means shutting down the government in the process.

Other Republicans, however, have warned against risking a shutdown, worrying that the gambit would blow up in the GOP's face and do nothing to sideline the health care law.

McConnell has not said whether he will advance a budget plan that omits funding for Obamacare, but the issue has already emerged as a crucial test in his 2014 reelection bid, which is threatened by a credible primary challenge from Matt Bevin, a Kentucky businessman.

The SCF has not yet endorsed McConnell or his opponent, but the group's executive director, Matt Hoskins, fired a shot across McConnell's bow in a statement accompanying the new advertisement.

"Republicans in the Senate have the power to defeat funding for Obamacare, but they won't use it if their leader tells them to surrender," Hoskins said. "This is a big test for Mitch McConnell. He wants Kentucky voters to re-elect him because he's the Republican Leader, but what good is that title if he won't use it to help Kentucky families? If there was ever a time when Kentucky needed Mitch McConnell to deliver, it is now. We hope he listens to the voters and finds the courage to lead."

McConnell has recently sustained fire from outside conservative groups on Obamacare and other issues, and it's not the first time the SCF has targeted the Republican leader. In July, according to the Washington Post, Hoskins warned that McConnell could "lose this race and cost the Republicans the majority."

"He needs to consider whether it might be time to hang it up," Hoskins said. "[McConnell's] had a long, successful political career, but this could be the time to pass the torch."

McConnell's opponent, meanwhile, is pushing back against those who would pigeonhole him as a member of the tea party. "I'm a Republican. I'm running in a Republican primary, " Bevin insisted Thursday during an interview on MSNBC. "I have never been a member of a tea party."