Republicans pounce on Landrieu's Keystone defeat
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Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuA decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ MORE (D-La.) said Tuesday that the Senate’s failure to pass a bill authorizing the Keystone pipeline doesn’t undermine her reelection efforts.

But Republicans were quick to argue her primary argument for returning to the Senate has now been demolished and that the outcome could further boost Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). 

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In a press conference immediately following the vote, Landrieu was asked if the bill’s failure blows a hole in her argument that Louisiana voters need to return her to the Senate because of her clout, experience, and seniority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Absolutely not,” the senator said. 

Landrieu said only someone with her experience would have recognized the brief window of opportunity that opened during the lame-duck session to pressure Democratic leadership to bring a vote on the Keystone bill to the Senate floor. 

Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Republicans root for Sanders nomination in battle for House Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (D-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.), both supporters of the pipeline and strong allies of Landrieu, flanked the Louisiana Democrat at the presser. They spoke as if Landrieu would be around to take up the bill again in the next Senate.

“I look forward to the next Congress when Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin and a number of our other great Democratic senators step up to say yes [on the pipeline],” Heitkamp said. “It’s not the end of this issue.”

Manchin said Landrieu’s Keystone push was evidence that she’s “not afraid to take on the president and not afraid to take on the establishment.”

“Her coming back as ranking minority is important," Manchin said of Landrieu's spot on the Senate Energy committee. “I hope that happens for people of Louisiana.”

Still, many political observers viewed Landrieu’s push to pass Keystone as a last-gasp effort to reverse the momentum in her election runoff against Cassidy. With the bill falling short, Republicans now have more political ammunition to use against her ahead of the Dec. 6 run-off.

“Landrieu Clout Comes Up Empty On Keystone,” blared the subject line of an email from the Louisiana Republican Party.

"Senator Mary Landrieu’s failure to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline this evening is a perfect snapshot of her time as Chair of the Energy Committee – a failure,” said an email from the Cassidy campaign. “Conversely, Dr. Cassidy passed the Keystone pipeline out of the House last week with wide bi-partisan support. Ironically, while Senator Landrieu was failing on Keystone for the past 6 years, she was simultaneously campaigning on her supposed 'clout.'”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus piled on. 

"Keystone’s failure in the Democrat-led Senate is another reminder Mary Landrieu is only effective when it comes to delivering for President Obama and that she enables the gridlock voters rejected at the polls two weeks ago," he said in a statement. "Louisianans can send another strong message to President Obama by firing Senator Landrieu and replacing her with the effective, pro-energy leadership of Bill Cassidy.” 

While the Keystone loss may sting, Landrieu’s campaign was already fighting an uphill battle.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled the $2 million it had committed to the Louisiana run-off, leaving Landrieu massively outgunned on the airwaves in the state.

Meanwhile, conservatives have rallied behind Cassidy. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms MORE (R-Ky.) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R) have all turned out at unity rallies supporting Cassidy.

 Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic MacGregor confirmed as Interior deputy chief GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE (R-Fla.) plans to attend the next unity rally, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) will fundraise on Cassidy’s behalf at a National Republican Senatorial Campaign event on Dec. 1.