At what's expected to be their final appearances before the cameras in the Ohio clock corridor before the midterm elections in November, the two political strategists leading the Senate offered predictably upbeat assessments for their respective parties' chances.
"If the election were today, we would be just fine. The election's not today, it's 48 days away," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said — not long after his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky expressed optimism the electorate would go their way.
"I'm not going to lay out what the agenda will be if in fact we become the majority," McConnell said, when asked about the chances a GOP-led Senate might roll back procedural changes made by Reid using the "nuclear option."
"The American people have to speak first, and I think there are a number of things that we would like to do differently. You heard the Keystone pipeline mentioned. That's a good example," McConnell said. "Repealing the medical device tax, something that enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support, those are the kinds of things that we've not been able to vote on in the Senate for years that the American people might like us to address."
"We're doing fine, and I just think any talk about Republicans taking control of the Senate is really premature and not based upon fact," Reid said, also dismissing the idea of President Barack Obama's approval rating dragging down Democrats.
"All elections are the same in this sense. Anything six weeks or two months out from an election is all based upon the candidates," he said. "It's a contest between two individuals. ... We have much better candidates than they have."
"I think the races are yet to be won. Our friends on the other side are tough competitors. You all are familiar with the landscape. We have pickup opportunities in states that Mitt Romney carried: West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, Alaska and Montana," McConnell said. "We have very competitive races in five purple states: New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Iowa and Colorado. We have two really terrific candidates in a couple of blue states: Minnesota and Oregon."
"We're hoping to have a really good year. We're hoping the American people will agree with us that it might be time to try something different after six years in a row of the same old thing," McConnell said.
Reid indicated that he intended to stand for Democratic leader regardless of the outcome in November, despite the obvious unwillingness to speculate that could be in a minority capacity.
That's really no surprise. Even less surprising? Reid once again declared Tuesday that the nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain in his home state of Nevada has no chance as long as he's there.
"Exclamation, all kinds of underlining: as long as I'm around, there's no Yucca Mountain," Reid said.
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