Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's staff said that Democrats are slamming the Kentucky Republican by taking comments he made earlier this week out of context.
John Ashbrook, a spokesman for McConnell, said that the GOP senator never insisted he would shut down the government over spending bills.
"Democrats have decided to promote the idea of a government shutdown at every possible opportunity. The fact that they're doing it again today in response to an interview in which Leader McConnell never even raised the subject says far more about their failed campaign strategy than it does about how Republicans would approach their responsibilities as a majority party," Ashbrook told the Washington Examiner.
McConnell's comments to Politico described a scenario in which a Republican-controlled Senate would seek to pass funding bills that restricted programs President Obama supported, but that it would be up to Obama to sign or reject them — posing a potential shutdown scenario.
At present, there's no transcript of the interview with McConnell. But it appears that he did not reject the possibility of another shutdown arising from such actions.
Democrats quickly tried to use McConnell's arguments against him. The Democratic National Committee sent out an email blast on Thursday that said McConnell is "telling reporters that he'll use the threat of a government shutdown to roll back all the progress that President Obama has made."
Many of the programs likely in GOP sights are Environmental Protection Agency efforts aimed at addressing climate change, chiefly a proposed carbon emissions rule for power plants. Handcuffing the EPA has been a central part of the message for McConnell, who hails from coal-heavy Kentucky and is fighting Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes for his own seat in November.