McConnell: Democrats taking 'abrupt left turn toward socialism'
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-Ky.) knocked Democrats on Wednesday, arguing that the party is moving toward socialism — an issue Republicans want to make a focal point ahead of the 2020 election.

"Our nation has watched the Democratic Party take a sharp and abrupt left turn toward socialism. A flawed ideology that has been rejected time and again across the world is now driving the marquee policy proposals of the new House Democrat majority," McConnell said from the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Republicans have seized on socialism as a wedge issue as freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Warren, Ocasio-Cortez press Mnuchin on role in Sears bankruptcy MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats join striking McDonald's workers Billionaire's M gift to Morehouse grads points way to student debt solution Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden MORE (I-Vt.), who both identify as democratic socialists, have electrified the party's progressive base in recent years.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE, during his State of the Union speech, sparked a divided reaction from Democrats when he pledged that the United States would not become a socialist country. 

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, pointed to the progressive "Green New Deal" as an example of the shift within the Democratic Party. It marked the latest time the Senate GOP leader has brought up his concerns about socialism this week. 

Speaking to reporters in Kentucky on Monday, he said that it was a "bigger threat" than people might think. 

"I never thought in my lifetime we would be debating the virtues of capitalism … having serious presidential candidates suggesting we ought to have socialism in this country," he said. "We're going to have a great debate in 2020 about the very essence of America."