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Mitch McConnell defends vote on debt limit

The Senate minority leader sticks behind his decision to side with Democrats to cut a proposed filibuster that could have slashed the debt-limit bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds true to his decision to favor passing the debt-limit bill, amid dissatisfaction in his own party.

"My job is to protect the country when I can, and I step up and lead on those occasions when it's required. That is what I did," the Kentucky Republican said at a campaign event on Friday.

Twelve Republican senators -- most notably McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn -- sided with Democrats last week in their decision to cut a filibuster threatened by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and instead voted to extend the federal debt limit for a year. Cruz planned to object the bill, passed by House Republicans earlier in the week, by seeking a 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

President Obama signed the bill into law on Saturday.

"There's clearly multiple factions inside the party, and yes, there's a power struggle. And you know what? It will sort itself out," NBC News chief White House correspondent and msnbc host Chuck Todd said on Monday's Morning Joe.

McConnell faces perhaps one of his toughest battles as he prepares for November when he will run for re-election and also celebrate his 30-year anniversary as a senator.

"I think Ted Cruz represents a large part of the Republican party, an important part, that knocks on doors, makes phones calls, that really does help the party get elected," Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said on the show.

McConnell might gain support from independent and swing voters, but not from the base in his own party, he added.

Cruz, who voiced his opinion that the Senate Republicans should have united for the vote, suggested that McConnell's leadership in the Senate is in danger.

McConnell leads his Democratic opponent -- Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes -- by just one point in the latest poll. Republicans hope to retake the Senate in elections later this year, but recent polls didn't account for the possibility of the senator losing in his home state.