McConnell Challenger Matt Bevin Now Says Shutdowns Are Bad

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Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin appears to be shying away from supporting a government shutdown after full-throated support last October.

In a new interview with National Review published on Thursday, Bevin expressed strong opposition to a government shutdown under any circumstance. The conservative magazine posted a video of Bevin, who’s running in the GOP primary against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, responding to a question about government shutdowns.

Bevin argues that government shutdowns are a terrible idea:

The question is – he’s under the assumption – he’s wondering: Would it be self-defeating to be somebody who would be a proponent of shutting down the government? Are we not playing into the hands essentially of Democrats with that thought process?
I would say absolutely, that would be the case, which is why not even a little am I a proponent of that. So if in anything that I’ve said I’ve left you with that impression, I don’t know how I’ve done that. ​
Because not even to the slightest degree am I a proponent of shutting down the government. Not even a little bit. In fact, I think our shutdown of it was so irresponsible because of the fact that we waited until the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute before we even started to discuss it.
That’s one of the other things that’s destroying this country, is that we have become so partisan.

Bevin’s comments are a sharp contrast with ones he made a few months ago ahead of the October government shutdown over Obamacare. In an interview with TPM in September, before the shutdown, the Kentucky businessman strongly and clearly criticized McConnell for opposing an effort to defund Obamacare by threatening a government shutdown.

“It is a surrender. I think sadly it has more to do with not wanting to rock the boat for reelection,” Bevin told TPM. “It’s an absolute surrender — a cop out to say they’re for repeal, but not for defunding Obamacare. That’s an absolute cop out.”

Bevin has also strongly supported the effort use a government shutdown as leverage to defund Obamacare. Over the summer, when the defund Obamacare effort was just getting started, Bevin argued that McConnell should “stop talking about yanking it out root and branch and start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by defunding it. Stand with Sen. Mike Lee. Be a man, stand up, and put your money where your mouth is.”

Bevin’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from TPM.

Reached for a statement, McConnell’s campaign said Bevin is tailoring his comments to appeal to voters.

“Matt Bevin will say whatever he thinks people want to hear in the moment to try and make a quick sale,” McConnell spokesman Allison Moore said in a statement to TPM. “He claimed to be a Constitutional Conservative only to prove he knew nothing about it, claims to be a conservative business man but takes taxpayer funded bailouts for his uninsured business, claimed to have an MBA from MIT when he never even attended the school, and now decries partisanship after basing his entire campaign on the idea that Sen. McConnell is too bipartisan. Matt Bevin has no credibility left whatsoever.”

Back before the last shutdown, it wasn’t entirely clear how much damage a government shutdown over Obamacare would do to the Republican brand. After the October shutdown, polls found the Republican Party’s brand at serious lows and key figures in the effort, like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), didn’t escape the blame by constituents.

Watch the National Review video of Bevin below:

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