Herald-Leader: McConnell stares down Democrats on debt ceiling

I spoke to McClatchy‘s Dave Catanese for a piece in the Lexington Herald-Leader about Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s game of chicken with congressional Democrats on the debt ceiling.

For the moment, McConnell’s bet is that because Democrats are in power, they will shoulder more of the blame if the country somehow stumbles into default. Among Republican voters, it might even be a bigger risk to accommodate more Biden-branded spending.

“Who the median voters will blame if things go south is an open question — and in part a function of how you guys cover it,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist. “But your average Republicans will not object to the conference playing hardball here, and for GOP members there may be more immediate risk if they are seen as capitulating on the debt limit and facilitating the Biden agenda.”

Read the full piece here.
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CNN: McConnell carefully choosing battles in Trump proxy war for the midterms

I spoke to CNN’s Mike Warren about the GOP primary dynamics, and the cautious approach by Senate leaders vis a vis Trump.

McConnell’s political team has greeted other Trump endorsements in open primaries with cautious accommodation — including Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania, Mo Brooks in Alabama, and Ted Budd in North Carolina. None could be described as McConnell’s ideal candidates, said one Republican consultant, but none would significantly diminish the GOP’s chances of winning next November.

And in the case of Nevada’s Adam Laxalt, Trump has thrown his support behind a candidate McConnell worked to recruit himself.

“Except, arguably, in Georgia, Trump hasn’t picked anybody who can’t win, and there aren’t any competitive races where an establishment alternative would be a slam dunk,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist. “You don’t wade into a primary proxy battle against Trump for sport — there has to be something to gain.”

Read the full piece here.

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NBC News: ‘A train wreck’: Congress faces a daunting September as deadlines pile up

I spoke to NBC NewsSahil Kapur about the brutal September gauntlet shaping up for Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“Late September stands to be a train wreck for congressional Democrats, with their dual-track strategy on a collision course, but it also presents a faint silver lining in the form of a familiar foe,” said Liam Donovan, a lobbyist and former Republican operative. “There’s virtually no way the reconciliation package can be ready in time to satisfy all the promises that have been made by leadership, meaning President Biden will have to play a more active role as peacemaker.

“The question is whether the muscle memory of fighting Republicans on the debt limit and the rest of the policy cliff helps paper over the party’s divisions and heal intramural wounds,” he added. “Either way, it’s the biggest inflection point left in what might be the last fruitful year of the Democratic trifecta.”

Read the full piece here.

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