McConnell: 'Over-the-top' Moscow Mitch nickname effort to 'smear' me

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday vehemently denounced political opponents who have dubbed him “Moscow Mitch,” calling the nickname an “over-the-top” effort to “smear” him.

“It’s modern-day McCarthyism,” McConnell said during a radio interview on Salem Media Group’s “Hugh Hewitt Show” when asked about the nickname he received after blocking Democrats’ efforts to pass bipartisan election security bills. “Unbelievable for a Cold Warrior like me who spent a career standing up to the Russians to be given a moniker like that.”

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"You know, I can laugh about things like the 'Grim Reaper,' but calling me Moscow Mitch is over the top," the Kentucky senator added, before suggesting that Democrats would "say anything and do anything."

"This is what we’re up against with the hard left today in America," he said. 

McConnell faced heavy scrutiny following his decision in July to block requests from Democratic senators to pass bills aimed at strengthening America's election infrastructure by unanimous consent.

The move came a day after former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE publicly warned that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2020 elections as we "sit here."

Former GOP lawmaker and MSNBC host Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph Scarborough'Morning Joe' hosts mock Trump De Blasio to decide 'very soon' on possible gubernatorial bid Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats need to to 'crack down' on 'old boys club' in Senate MORE repeatedly referred to McConnell as "Moscow Mitch" following the decision. The nickname quickly went viral among Democrats, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech MORE (D-Calif.) referring to the Kentucky senator as "Moscow Mitch" last month. 

“We’ve sent our legislation to the Senate. Moscow Mitch says that he is the Grim Reaper," Pelosi said at an event in Illinois while decrying McConnell's moves to block House Democrats' legislation. "Imagine describing yourself as the Grim Reaper, that he’s going to bury all this legislation."

McConnell in April vowed to be the "Grim Reaper" for progressive policy proposals.

Meanwhile, he has fiercely pushed back against the criticism he received for his moves to block the election security legislation. He said in a Senate floor speech in July that his detractors were engaging in "modern-day McCarthyism." 

He also argued that the bills were partisan in nature and that the Trump administration has made a concerted effort to secure the nation's elections. 

"These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed. They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy," he said during the Senate floor speech.

The bills blocked by McConnell would require the use of paper ballots and direct campaigns to report offers of assistance from foreign governments to the FBI.