Sen. Mitch McConnell: GOP Primary ‘Essentially Over’

American healthcare reform
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American healthcare reform

The Republican presidential primary has practically been decided with an “almost-certain nominee,” Sen. Mitch McConnell said Thursday.

“I think I will say this: It’s pretty obvious this nomination is essentially over, and I think we’ll be a lot better off if we begin to rally behind the almost-certain nominee and begin to take the case against President Obama to the American people,” he said on “The Kudlow Report.”

The Senate’s leading Republican stopped short of endorsing a candidate – or even mentioning frontrunner Mitt Romney by name — but said the race was in the home stretch.

“I think more and more members are going to be embracing our almost-certain nominee, and I think this matter’s going to be wrapped up in a matter of weeks,” he said.

Pressed by host Larry Kudlow as to when he might support a presidential contender, McConnell demurred.

“I’ll let you know,” he said.

McConnell also criticized the comments President Obama made earlier, calling for an end to tax breaks for oil companies that are pulling in record profits and tax breaks from the federal government.

“Every time gas prices go up, the president says we need to raise taxes on energy companies, which of course would make the price of gas go even higher,” McConnell said. “It really doesn’t pass the smell test.”

As gasoline prices hit $4 per gallon, McConnell took the opportunity to defend oil companies.

“Somebody told me the other day that the revenue off of oil companies alone provides about 10 percent of the federal budget, so it’s not like they’re getting away with anything.

“They’re already paying an enormous amount of revenue, and we don’t want the price of gas to go up even higher.

“That’s the last thing we need right now,” he said.

McConnell also avoided predicting an outcome in the challenge to the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare.”

McConnell said the reason Obama hasn’t been talking about the law is because it was “deeply unpopular.”

The senator from Kentucky likened the mandate to having the federal government order people “to eat carrots, to quit smoking or to lose weight.”

Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, McConnell said it needed to be “repealed and replaced.”

Lastly, McConnell said he would push for a Senate vote on the budget House Republicans pushed through.

The fiscal plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who appeared on “The Kudlow Report” this week,” passed 228-191, almost along party lines with 10 Republicans voting against it along with all the Democrats.

“It probably won’t pass the Democratic Senate, but we will have a vote on the House-passed budget,” he said.

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