- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 20, 2015

Senate leader Mitch McConnell won’t hit back at Ted Cruz

Focuses on 2015 accomplishments, hits Obama on Islamic State

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he is “tuning out” the 2016 presidential race that features a quartet of his own GOP troops, including a junior senator from Texas who frequently rails against his leadership.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a leading candidate for the Republican nomination, raised eyebrows this year when he used a floor speech to accuse Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, of lying about whether an effort to revive the federal Export-Import Bank would get a vote during debate on a highway bill.

The Texan has cast Mr. McConnell as part of a “Washington cartel” that caves into Democrats and D.C. interests.

Mr. McConnell refused to strike back during a interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” even as Mr. Cruz leads polls in Iowa and positions himself to win in a number of early primary states in the South.

“I’ve made it a point to stay out of the presidential race,” Mr. McConnell said.

Instead, he focused on his first year in charge of the Senate, saying 2015 was a productive one that featured a free-wheeling amendment process and bipartisan accomplishments.

“The Senate is back to work,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’re voting again, we’re passing budgets again.”

He also urged President Obama to be more specific about how the U.S. and its allies plan to rout the Islamic State.

“The president of the United States needs to step up and say, ‘Here’s the plan,’” he said, arguing that American leadership is “indispensable.”

He said Mr. Obama’s strategy of airstrikes isn’t enough, and “it is going to take a more robust effort on the ground.”

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