Dems seize on NYT's McConnell piece as Exhibit A against GOP 'obstructionism'

Democrats are seizing on a report that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had long plotted to slow or halt Democratic priorities in Congress, planning to use it as a key piece of evidence in their case against GOP "obstructionism."

In a memo to a broad group of Democratic lawmakers, communications staff and party strategists obtained by The Hill, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Communications Director Brad Woodhouse advised using a New York Times report Wednesday on the Senate GOP leader as exhibit A against Republicans.

The Times report said that McConnell had hatched a strategy before President Barack Obama had even taken office to build GOP unity and orchestrate Republican opposition to a number of bills favored by Democrats.

"There appears to have been no part of this strategy that was concerned with actually dealing with issues like getting the economy moving again or creating jobs, solving our nation’s health insurance crisis, addressing climate change or any of the other vexing issues facing the American people," Woodhouse said in the memo, which was circulated Wednesday evening. "No, the Republican Senate cloakroom became a place to plot political strategy – nothing else."

Democrats had made an issue of the Times story throughout the day on Wednesday, with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine having released a statement blasting McConnell. 

The story, Democrats said, essentially undercut the sincerity of claims by McConnell and other Republicans that they were really interested in working in a bipartisan, cooperative manner on major legislative issues.

Woodhouse told party officials that the Times story "plays to our benefit at a crucial time."

"In the coming weeks, when Republicans decry the use of reconciliation in the Senate to make modifications to the health insurance bill or complain bitterly about the use of longstanding and established rules for passing bills in the House, we’ll have more than their own hypocrisy to hit them back with—we can point to this story," he said.

"We can remind the press and the American people that when they say these things are poisoning the well of bipartisanship, the fact is we couldn’t have poisoned that well if we wanted to (which we don’t) because they got to it first," Woodhouse added.