In an exclusive chat with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) here at CPAC, I had the opportunity to ask the Senate Republican Leader about a number of short and long term battles in Washington. Our wide ranging discussion spanned several hot issues, from Obamacare repeal to the 'Fast & Furious' scandal:
Cheat sheet -- Here are the time stamps for each question:
1:00 - Are Senate Republicans backing away from Obamacare repeal as a top priority?
2:15 - What, if anything, can Congress do to block or reverse the Obama administration's unconstitutional birth control mandate?
3:30 - President Obama and Senate Democrats have been ignoring the Constitution and disregarding long-standing precedent to further their agenda. Are you prepared to retailiate?
6:45 - What is your response to Senate Democrats' ongoing refusal to follow the law and pass a budget?
8:05 - How do Senate Republicans plan to keep the president's dreadful Keystone XL decision in the spotlight?
10:20 - Will you join Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa in demanding complete transparency from Attorney General Holder on the Fast & Furious scandal?
11:15 - What do you make of your former Senate colleague Rick Santorum's presidential surge?
The big take-aways, from my perspective: (1) McConnell's number one priority in 2013 will be full Obamacare repeal -- if a new president is elected, of course. (2) The minority leader has little appetite to directly retaliate for Harry Reid's unprecedented powergrabs. (3) McConnell will force votes on both the 2013 House-passed budget resolution and President Obama's forthcoming (and pitiful) budget proposal. (4) Senate Republicans intend to embed Keystone as a thorn in Democrats' side through the election. (5) McConnell really doesn't want to say anything that could be construed as a statement indicating his presidential preference.