McConnell says he's locked up the votes to remain GOP leader

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he's confident he will remain in that position when new senators head to Washington next year.

McConnell, who's served as Senate GOP leader since early 2007, said he's already locked up enough votes to remain in the top position.

"I already have the votes to be reelected Republican leader, and I will be reelected," he said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast.

Republicans are hoping to pick up a number of seats in the Senate in this fall's elections, though most GOP leaders acknowledge the 10-seat win they'd need to take back control of the upper chamber would be a steep climb.

Still, many of the Republican candidates the party needs to win this fall have unseated some incumbent GOP senators in primaries, raising the fear that those new members might be less loyal to party leadership. In particular, speculation has hinted that they might feel more loyal to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has supported a number of those candidates through his Senate Conservatives Fund.

(DeMint has said he has no plans to challenge McConnell, but has hinted that he might run for another leadership position.)

McConnell said he'd be happy to lead a bigger GOP conference, no matter who's in it.

"I'd love to have the opportunity to lead a larger number of Republicans," he said. "I'm going to be the leader of a larger group, and I do not view that as a problem."