If There's a Debt Deal, These Four Will Make It Happen
McConnell "handed President Obama a loss. He picked his spots along the way and little by little you saw the president's ratings go down and Republicans go up.
That's one of the ways he kept us altogether."
McConnell, 69, is a veteran of the Appropriations Committee, where deal-making is a common practice, but the debt crisis has tested his skills.
His recent debt proposal was reviled by House conservatives. The "Pontius Pilate" plan, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., called it.
"Wash your hands and leave the table." McConnell warned that if Republicans allowed the government to default, they would co-own the sputtering economy with Obama.
The result, he said, would be a second term for Obama, the antithesis of McConnell's goal.
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," McConnell told the National Journal last year.
In 2012, the GOP has a clear shot at capturing the Senate, and McConnell could end up as the man in charge.
But McConnell has had an uneasy relationship with tea partyers.
His candidate in Kentucky's GOP primary in 2010 was Secretary of State Trey Grayson, not upstart Rand Paul, who eventually won the nomination and the seat.
At the height of the fierce health care debate, when Obama traveled to the Capitol to meet with Senate Democrats during a rare weekend session, Reid and McConnell arranged for the GOP to temporarily preside over the Senate as a courtesy as Democrats gathered behind closed doors with the president.
Conservative bloggers excoriated McConnell and the GOP leadership for failing to act during their brief moments of power.