WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- A senior Republican lawmaker Sunday dismissed the idea that the GOP is trying to delay a budget deal as a strategy to defeat President Obama in 2012.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Fox News Sunday that for at least this year, Republicans were focused on getting the economy back on track, which is why they have so far failed to reach a budget deal with the White House.
"Our biggest goal for this year is to get this country straightened out and you can't get this country straightened out if we don't [do] something about spending," McConnell said.
McConnell said the GOP was indeed committed to foiling Obama's quest for a second term; however, that was not the Republicans' top priority for 2011.
"That is my most single important political goal along with every active Republican in the country," McConnell said. "That is in 2012 ... our biggest goal for this year is to get this country straightened out."
McConnell's denial comes amid what The Hill said was a campaign by Democratic operatives to stir up the idea the Republicans were more interested in keeping the economic downturn going to better their chances to win the White House.
But McConnell said his side was moving slowly and playing hardball in order to get the best deal, which involves spending cuts rather than tax increases. "Principal revenue is down now is not because we have rates that are too low, it's because we're in a very sour economy," he said. "When the economy goes south, government goes south as well."