An influential conservative group is set to launch a statewide ad campaign in Kentucky to pressure Mitch McConnell to change his mind over defunding Obamacare -- the latest salvo against the vulnerable Senate minority leader who finds himself ducking hits from both sides in his re-election race.
The Senate Conservative Fund sent a fundraising email to its members on Friday, saying they're readying a new media assault against McConnell to convince him to oppose funding for the health care plan, set to take effect in October, even if it means voting down any spending bills that could shutdown the federal government.
In the letter, the group's Executive Director Matt Hoskins says they need to raise $50,000 for the campaign, and accuses McConnell of "waving the white flag" over the issue. Getting McConnell's backing of the push by other conservative senators, including Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, is crucial for the organization in convincing other senators to join their side.
"If you want to know why more senators haven't pledged to oppose funding for Obamacare, it's because of Mitch McConnell -- the man who is supposed to be leading the fight for conservative principles in the U.S. Senate," Hoskins writes.
Hoskins told MSNBC that his group thinks the window to convince McConnell, and other subsequent senators, to flip to their side, is closing. If the minority leader, facing both a tough primary and general election contest in 2014, falls, they believe other dominoes will too to block the health care bill.
"We really need Sen. McConnell to change his position to begin to lead the fight against funding Obamacare by the time we get back from the recess," said Hoskins. "At some point, in September these decisions are going to be made, and we really need him to take a leadership position this soon."
McConnell faces a primary challenge from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who has signed the conservative fund's petition to support any addition funding for the health care law. And in the general election, McConnell faces another challenge against Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
While Hoskins said McConnell's vote on whether to defund the health care program wouldn't be their sole reason choosing to work against his re-election or endorse his challenger, it will factor into their decision. The Senate Conservative Fund has made no secret of their disdain for the minority leader before, calling him "the least electable Republican senator" and said they're open to backing Bevin.
This week, McConnell told a group he was "“for stopping Obamacare, but shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare,” according to a local report, and said that "There are a handful of things in the 2,700-page bill that probably are okay,...But that doesn't warrant a 2,700-page takeover of all American healthcare."
The Senate Conservative Fund was first founded by former South Carolina Jim DeMint, who as the new president of conservative think tank Heritage Action, is crossing the country during recess with a series of town halls pushing for the bill's defunding, even if it means shutting down the government.