McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial 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 TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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-CortezSanders says Ocasio-Cortez will play a 'very important role' in his administration if he's elected Top Sanders adviser suggests polling underestimates campaign support Omar renews claim Stephen Miller is a 'white nationalist' amid calls for him to step down 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 CollinsLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official MORE (Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Trump rules out total rollback of Chinese tariffs MORE (N.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump holds chummy meeting with Turkey's Erdoğan Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing Senate Democrats introduce Violence Against Women Act after bipartisan talks break down 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."