McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump congratulates Steve King challenger on GOP primary win The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Republicans turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks 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 TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? 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-CortezNew York City issues Monday night curfew amid protests Engel primary challenger drops out, endorses fellow challenger Trump says he will designate antifa a terrorist organization 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 CollinsTrump pushes back against GOP senators' criticism of dispersal of protesters in Lafayette Square: 'You got it wrong' Trump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest GOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters MORE (Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation McConnell: Next coronavirus bill will be final COVID-19 package MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits Tillis campaign releases first general election TV ad emphasizing 'humble' roots MORE (N.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Greenfield wins Senate Democratic primary in Iowa The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden battle over law enforcement 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."