McConnell Keeps Low Profile in Health Debate

Conservative critics think Minority Leader should be fighting administration harder
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2009 10:00 PM CDT
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens to questions at a health care reform forum at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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(Newser) – Why haven’t we heard more from Mitch McConnell on health care? The Senate Minority Leader has kept relatively quiet on the administration’s reform efforts, a stance that has irked many conservative activists who feel McConnell is ducking his duties as de facto Republican Party leader, writes Stephanie Mencimer for Mother Jones. McConnell “could single-handedly destroy this bill,” says pro-life firebrand Randall Terry. “But so far he has not displayed the backbone."

McConnell’s reserved style has earned him criticism before: Erick Erickson, editor of Red State, slammed him in January for going along with the stimulus, and conservative activist Manuel Miranda publicly called him “limp-wristed” for not opposing the Sotomayor nomination more strongly. But supporters say McConnell’s strategy is wise: He doesn’t need to “match Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi blow by blow with sound bites,” says Grover Norquist—it's better to let the Dems bungle health care, and take advantage later.