McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims GOP confident of win on witnesses Collins Senate bid threatens to spark GOP rift in Georgia MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday vowed to be the "Grim Reaper" for progressive policies if Republicans hold on to the Senate in 2020. 

"If I'm still the majority leader in the Senate think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass," McConnell said while speaking to community leaders in Owensboro, Ky.

McConnell noted that if Republicans win back the House or President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE wins reelection "that takes care of it." But he pledged that even if Republicans lose the White House, he would use his position as majority leader to block progressive proposals like the Green New Deal. 
 
"I guarantee you that if I'm the last man standing and I'm still the majority leader, it ain't happening. I can promise you," McConnell added. 
 
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His comments come as Republicans have seized on proposals like the Green New Deal and "Medicare for All" to paint Democrats as shifting to the left and embracing "socialism" as the next election nears. 
 
McConnell painted the 2020 election as a choice between capitalism and socialism, arguing that the latter has taken roots within the Democratic Party. He pointed to progressive pushes from freshman Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa New economic confidence polls show why Bernie won't win the White House Ocasio-Cortez rips 'public charge' decision: 'The American Dream isn't a private club with a cover charge' MORE (D-N.Y.), making a veiled reference to the self-identified democratic socialist. 
 
"Now, my friends, we're having a legitimate debate about the virtues of socialism. And I don't want you to think this is just a 28-year-old congresswoman from New York. This is much broader than that," McConnell said. 
 
Ocasio-Cortez is the driver behind the Green New Deal, a sweeping environmental proposal which McConnell brought to the Senate floor last month in what he later acknowledged was a "show vote."
 
On Monday, McConnell pointed to the large share of Democrats voting "present" on the Green New Deal as proof that socialism is "a pervasive policy view on the other side." 
 
"I don't want you to think this is just a couple of nut cases running around here on the fringe," McConnell said. 
 
Republicans are defending 22 Senate seats next year, including McConnell's, compared to the 12 seats being defended by Democrats. Though most of the GOP seats are in solidly Republican states, McConnell still faces the possibility of losing several potentially vulnerable members, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP confident of win on witnesses Republicans signal renewed confidence they'll avoid witness fight Trump's team rests, calls for quick end to trial MORE (Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Foreign Relations Democrats 'deeply frustrated' after Iran briefing GOP leader warns lawmakers on fundraising: 'Getting our ass kicked' MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators ready for question time in impeachment trial Progressive group targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment witnesses Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment MORE (N.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBiden calls out Iowa GOP senator's impeachment comments: 'She spilled the beans' GOP Iowa senator suggests Trump impeachment defense could hurt Biden at caucuses Republicans show little enthusiasm for impeachment witness swap MORE (Iowa). 
 
McConnell told reporters earlier this month that the country needs a "referendum on socialism," tipping his hand to his 2020 strategy. 
 
"Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don't assume it cannot happen," he added on Monday. "It will all be in the hands, I think, of the voters of this country next year."