Grassroots conservatives at CPAC 2014 may have been a bit surprised to find themselves being addressed by establishment Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and their reaction suggests they were a bit less than overwhelmed by his so called “red meat” speech.
Apparently, you can’t put lipstick on red meat, anymore than you can anything else.
The Senate minority leader’s address came as he faces a fierce primary challenge from his right flank and frustration from conservatives with his role in a number of contentious policy debates this year, most recently his vote to raise the debt limit.
Even McConnell’s attempt to draft off of positive sentiment for retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) fell flat.
He arrived on stage accompanied by retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), whom he thanked for his service to the movement with the gift of a rifle — and framed the rest of his speech as an homage to the “truths” Coburn has told during his time in office, and pledged to make the Senate a place Coburn would “be proud of” if he’s the Senate majority leader next year.
His speech is said to have received only “scattered, polite applause.” Small wonder given that he and his NRSC operatives have spent so much time demeaning conservatives in and around McConnell’s primary challenge from the Right by Matt Bevin.
McConnell faces a challenge from businessman Matt Bevin in the May primary, and though he’s favored to win, he’s faced heavy attacks from outside conservative groups. If he advances, he’ll face another tough challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes this fall.
If McConnell does survive a primary only to lose to a Democrat in the Fall, it may well be due to his moderate politics, combined with his scorched earth attacks on GOP voting conservatives who could opt to simply stay home.