GOP RAMPS UP WARN­ING

McCon­nell: Watch for Dems’ ‘toxic’ tac­tics

Boston Herald - - NEWS -

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell bashed Democrats and their lib­eral al­lies yes­ter­day for state­ments and ac­tions that he dubbed “toxic fringe be­hav­ior,” sharp­en­ing Repub­li­cans’ cam­paign-sea­son rhetoric as the party tries rous­ing con­ser­va­tive vot­ers to turn out on Elec­tion Day.

The Ken­tucky Repub­li­can’s re­marks on the Se­nate floor were an ex­tended ver­sion of a mes­sage party lead­ers have de­liv­ered since last week. That’s when the GOP be­gan ac­cus­ing Democrats of con­don­ing “mob rule” af­ter rau­cous de­mon­stra­tors op­pos­ing Brett Ka­vanaugh’s Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion ha­rangued GOP law­mak­ers at the Capi­tol last week. Some Repub­li­cans said they re­ceived death threats.

McCon­nell de­scribed protesters “literally storm­ing the steps of the Capi­tol and the Supreme Court,” con­fronting Repub­li­cans at res­tau­rants and shout­ing from the Se­nate vis­i­tors’ gal­leries dur­ing last week’s de­bate and vote on Ka­vanaugh.

“Only one side was happy to play host to this toxic fringe be­hav­ior,” McCon­nell said. “Only one side’s lead­ers are now openly call­ing for more of it. They haven’t seen enough. They want more. And I’m afraid this is only Phase One of the melt­down.”

He added: “We will not let mob be­hav­ior drown out all the Amer­i­cans who want to le­git­i­mately par­tic­i­pate in the pol­icy-mak­ing process.”

McCon­nell’s com­ments come less than four weeks from elec­tions in which Democrats are seen as hav­ing a strong chance at cap­tur­ing con­trol of the House but weaker odds of win­ning a ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate.

Un­til the ran­corous de­bate over Ka­vanaugh — he de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions by three women of 1980s sex­ual mis­con­duct — polls sug­gested that GOP sup­port­ers were far less mo­ti­vated to vote than Democrats, who are ar­dently op­posed to Pres­i­dent Trump. Repub­li­cans have said the rowdy op­po­si­tion to Ka­vanaugh has given con­ser­va­tive vot­ers a new en­thu­si­asm. McCon­nell has called it a po­lit­i­cal gift.

The GOP rhetor­i­cal of­fen­sive also rep­re­sents a flip­ping of the re­cent script, in which Democrats have ac­cused Trump of in­ten­si­fy­ing di­vi­sions with na­tion­al­is­tic and at times racist ap­peals to his con­ser­va­tive base and per­sonal at­tacks on po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies.

Al­most a decade ago, Democrats also as­sailed the Tea Party, grass­roots con­ser­va­tives who ral­lied against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law and who an­grily shouted down law­mak­ers at town hall meet­ings.

Yes­ter­day, McCon­nell cited re­cent state­ments by 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton and former At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder. And he point­edly noted that these ac­tiv­i­ties fol­lowed last year’s shoot­ing of GOP law­mak­ers at a morn­ing base­ball prac­tice by “a po­lit­i­cally crazed gun­man.”

AP FILE PHOTO

‘LE­GIT­I­MATE’ PAR­TIC­I­PANT: Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell walks to the Se­nate floor yes­ter­day for a vote on Capi­tol Hill.

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