LOUISVILLE — Calling the nation's new health care law "a monstrosity," U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes will follow other "red state" Democrats in trying to distance themselves from the law.
McConnell, addressing reporters at his campaign headquarters, again called for the full repeal of "Obamacare" and accused his opponent of following other Democrats in calling for tinkering with a law that he said has caused "chaos."
"The panic has set in," McConnell said. "The troops are restless. And on a daily basis, you will see some Democrat in some red state come up with a new way to try to distance themselves from Obamacare."
Tuesday's news conference represented a new chapter in McConnell's re-election effort, as the senator and his campaign seek to draw out Grimes as a supporter of the new health care law and other issues backed by national Democrats.
Using Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana as an example, McConnell said he expects Grimes to follow her lead in trying to find the appropriate distance from the health care law.
"So I would say ... keep an eye on, say, Mary Landrieu, and whatever Mary Landrieu does, you can expect that my opponent will likely do either that day or the next day: trying to run away," McConnell said. "But the question you should be asking her is are you for or against getting rid of it? That's the point here. No amount of cosmetic changes around the edges are going to fix this. It isn't fixable."
Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton dismissed McConnell's news conference as "incoherent" and said the five-term senator "failed to offer any new ideas."
"Alison Lundergan Grimes is the only candidate in this race who has proposed solutions to help Kentuckians," Norton said. "As Alison has said for months, there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed. She has called for an extension of the grandfathering period to allow the people of Kentucky to keep their current plans, as well as an extension of the enrollment period and mandate delay for all Americans until the federal website is fixed."
McConnell, however, renewed his calls for repealing the law "root and branch," saying "it's not salvageable."
He called the law "the single worst piece of legislation that's been passed in modern times."
"Anything short of full repeal leaves us with this monstrosity," McConnell said.
When asked what his message is to the more than 7,000 Kentuckians who have already enrolled in qualified health care plans, the senator cited a much larger number of people whose current insurance plan will no longer be offered.
"What about the 280,000 who have lost their insurance?" McConnell asked. "We ought to start over."
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.