McConnell primary foe: Deal ‘rotten’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is taking heat from Tea Party groups and his primary challenger for brokering a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Matt Bevin, who is running against McConnell in the GOP primary in Kentucky, slammed him for "selling out conservatives."

"When the stakes are highest, Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives," he said in a statement.

"McConnell just negotiated the GOP surrender to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.], leading the charge to give President Obama a blank check and lifting the debt ceiling once again without any spending reforms. Harry Reid has even praised McConnell for his 'cooperation,' " Bevin said.

Bevin said McConnell struck a "rotten" deal that is a "slap in the face to ordinary Kentuckians," and blasted it for not including changes to ObamaCare.

McConnell defended the deal Wednesday, noting it protects the spending cuts that Republicans won in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act (BCA).

“This is far less than many of us had hoped for. But it’s far better than what some had sought,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

And McConnell's campaign dismissed Bevin's criticism. In an email to The Hill, spokeswoman Allison Moore questioned the legitimacy of Bevin's campaign.

"At some point, you'd think Matt Bevin would take a deep breath, stare up at his fake MIT diploma, and wonder whether this is the kind of campaign he envisioned," she said.

Tea Party groups have panned the deal as well, and many are noting McConnell's prominent role in orchestrating it.

“Today's deal shows once again that the Senate leadership, led by Mitch McConnell, knows nothing but capitulation,” said Drew Ryun, head of the Madison Project, a conservative group that has endorsed Bevin in the Kentucky Senate race.

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe charged that "Republican leadership has completely lost its way."

"Not only is this proposal a full surrender — it’s a complete surrender with presents for the Democrats. Apparently Mitch McConnell’s idea of a ‘compromise’ is to increase the debt limit, fully fund a broken health care law, and promise talks of increasing spending down the road," Kibbe said in a statement.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, in a Tuesday email, charged McConnell was "negotiating the Republican surrender" and "has left his party powerless."

McConnell has long faced criticism from the right for what Tea Party groups feel is his failure to adequately fight against President Obama's policies, most notably ObamaCare.

He clashed with conservative groups prior to the shutdown because he refused to endorse the Tea Party-backed strategy to shut down the government in order to defund the healthcare law.

McConnell is also facing a challenge from the left in Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of State.

The Lundergan Grimes campaign charged in a statement that "McConnell is attempting to pat himself on the back for finally deciding to do his job."

"Any last-minute deal should not obscure the fact that Senator McConnell created the shutdown with members of his own party, hurt Kentucky’s families, seniors and small businesses and cost the U.S. economy at least $4.8 billion," said spokeswoman Charly Norton.

"Kentuckians are tired of Washington’s dysfunction and deserve better representation in the Senate. McConnell's political tap dancing from one self-inflicted crisis to another will not receive a passing grade from Kentucky voters next November."

McConnell's campaign hit back, with Moore slamming Lundergan Grimes for criticizing the deal.

"I know Alison and her Obama spokespeople are frustrated that their campaign is failing to launch, but you'd expect a fellow Kentuckian, and the state's only female constitutional officer, to be less critical of a bipartisan effort to put people back to work," said Moore.

--This piece was updated at 5:15 p.m. to reflect comment from McConnell's campaign.