Appearing on FoxNews’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated his support of the Tea Party movement. “Let me make it clear,” McConnell told Cavuto. “I’m a big fan of the tea party movement. I think it’s been extremely important in helping us regain the House and do well in the Senate in 2010.”
McConnell had sparked controversy at the end of the November when he seemed to suggest on a conference call with donors that the Tea Party were “bullies” that he planned to “punch…in the nose.”
“There is one particular organization that I was talking about, which I think has been counterproductive, but I think the movement in general has been very positive,” McConnell said on Tuesday. The Senate Conservative Fund, which was originally founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, has been aggressive in opposing McConnell in next year’s primary. The organization has recently spent considerable resources on ads attacking McConnell.
“It is one of a number of different tea party groups, it is the one that I think has engaged in outrageous behavior that cost us seats,” McConnell said. “I’m a big fan of the tea party writ large. I think the whole movement is devoted to trying to do something about government spending and debt has been very, very helpful to the conservative cause.”
Many leading figures in the Republican establishment have threatened to attack Tea Party and other movement conservatives in the upcoming election. McConnell’s favorable view of the Tea Party should temper those threats.