Mitch’s balancing act: McConnell faces fire from both sides

Updated
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after a weekly Senate Republican caucus meeting May 21, 2013 on in Washington, DC.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after a weekly Senate Republican caucus meeting May 21, 2013 on in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Mitch McConnell is between a rock and a hard place—that is, a Tea Party and a Democratic challenger.

To win against his Tea Party primary challenger Matt Bevin, he’ll have to shift to the right, explained Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, but will that lead to his defeat to Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes?  

“Mitch is a pro, he’s a fighter. He will fight till the bitter end, but he’s getting pulled to the right in a state where Tea Party darling Rand Paul beat a candidate he hand-selected in 2010. He openly opposed Paul and lost,” said Scarborough of McConnell, who recently hired Paul’s campaign head to manage his reelection campaign.

McConnell’s move to the right is symptomatic of an issue facing the entire Republican Party, noted Random House’s Jon Meacham. Along with McConnell, GOPers like South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee may have to adapt to the growing number of far-right, Tea Party-supported politicians within the Republican Party.

However, Scarborough noted that the tactic may ultimately hurt McConnell as he attempts to break the dead heat against Democratic opponent Lundergan Grimes.

“Does he have to go so far right that it hurts him a little bit in the general election?” asked Scarborough.

The focus on the Senate battle comes after Kentucky’s Fancy Farm picnic, where the candidates traded barbs in front of a loud and unruly crowd.

Grimes attempted to distance herself from the Obama administration, said NBC political reporter Kasie Hunt, who attended the picnic. Meanwhile, McConnell didn’t acknowledge his competitors by name, instead attacking Grimes’ father, a seasoned political force in Kentucky, for “taking orders from the Obama campaign on how to run his daughter’s campaign,” and again, campaigned against the president.

Watch the full conversation below.

Related: Could this Democrat beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky?

Mitch's balancing act: McConnell faces fire from both sides

Updated