McConnell Uses Obamacare as Rx for Election Campaign

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, is seen in Washington, DC on July 23, 2013, while his opponent for the Kentucky Senate seat, Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan-Grimes, is seen at right on July 18, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo | Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who is fighting a two front reelection battle, said today his Democratic opponent, would be "trying to run away" from Obamacare, which he called the "single worst piece of legislation that has been passed in modern times."

"The panic has set in, the troops are restless and on a daily basis you will see some Democrats in some red states come up with a new way to try and distance themselves from Obamacare," McConnell said today in his first official campaign press conference.

The Kentucky senator is being challenged by Democrat Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. He also faces a challenge from within the GOP by Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin.

At his news conference today, McConnell ignored Bevin and said Democrats in red states like Kentucky are "wringing their hands trying to figure out how they are going to get away " from the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is sure to be at the heart of his re-election campaign.

When asked if he thought the law would help with access, McConnell said twice "I think the law should be repealed."

"Anything short of full repeal leaves us with this monstrosity and keep an eye on my opponent, watch (Louisiana Democratic senator) Mary Landrieu and that will be what she advocates the next day as they all scatter and run away," McConnell said at his campaign headquarters in Louisville.

"We ought to start over, it's not salvageable," McConnell said. "A better approach…would be to use a scalpel instead of a meat axe."

McConnell was dismissive of the president's apology last week for the problems with the Obamacare website and people who have lost their current health care coverage.

"It's a little bit late to apologize. What we need to do is to get rid of this monstrosity…and not start with the assumption that the government is going to be able to run the private health insurance market better than the private health insurance companies," McConnell said.

When asked what should be done to help increase access to health care, McConnell advocated for a "much more modest" approach.

"We should have started with the assumption number one that we have the finest health care in the world and number two we have 85 percent of Americans with health insurance," McConnell said. "How do you work on the 15 percent without destroying it for the 85 percent? In other words the audaciousness was the problem, the notion that all the smart people live in Washington and they can do this better than everybody else was the core problem so I don't think this is salvageable…I think it needs to be eliminated and we need to start over. "

Despite the Affordable Care Act's problems throughout the country, Kentucky has actually been held up as a state where the state-run Obamacare health exchanges are working. When McConnell was asked what his message was to the more than 7,000 Kentuckians who have already enrolled in health care plans, McConnell noted the large number of people whose current insurance plan will no longer be available.

"What about the 280,000 who have lost their insurance?" McConnell asked.

Grimes' spokesperson Charly Norton responded to the press conference in a statement, calling it "incoherent" and "combative."

"Mitch McConnell failed to offer any new ideas. Instead of offering solutions that work for Kentucky, McConnell resorts to desperate political games and Washington finger pointing," Norton said. "Alison Lundergan Grimes is the only candidate in this race who has proposed solutions to help Kentuckians. As Alison has said for months, there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed," Norton said.

Norton said that changes to Obamacare Grimes has called for include "an extension of the grandfathering period to allow the people of Kentucky to keep their current plans, as well as an extension of the enrollment period and mandate delay for all Americans until the federal website is fixed."

Sarah Durand, spokesperson for Bevin, also responded to the press conference, saying, "Mitch McConnell loves to talk a good game about Obamacare, but he was praised by Democrats of all stripes for funding Obamacare."

"We need someone like Matt Bevin who will fight for Kentucky conservative values not cave to Washington Democrats like McConnell," Durand said in a statement, referring to McConnell's work to re-open the government after the government shutdown last month.

Some conservatives and tea party Republicans called for an even lengthier shutdown in the hopes of trying to defund the president's health care law, but the effort was unsuccessful.