With nearly all of Washington consumed with finding a solution to the nation's skyrocketing debt and deficit, and with one major GOP attempt to find savings in Medicare now partially to blame for flipping a red district in New York to blue in a recent special election, Republicans are trying to find their way back to offense.

And who to turn to for help? Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's answer: Bill Clinton.

The Kentucky conservative mentioned the former president no fewer than five times in a 23-minute news conference on Friday, as he sought to prove a point that Democrats must inevitably accept changes to Medicare as part of any solution, and any suggestion to the contrary is just "silly talk."

"Let me just quote from President Clinton," the leader grinned, "'I don't think the Democrats or the Republicans' said President Clinton, 'should conclude from the New York race that no changes can be made to Medicare.'"

Clinton was in town Thursday for an all-day forum on the debt hosted by the Pete Peterson Foundation. And McConnell was clearly paying attention, perhaps more so than Democrats.

The leader was clearly trying to turn the page using an influential voice for both liberals and moderates alike, saying, "I dont think this is an issue we should be apprehensive about," adding, "Drawing a whole lot of conclusions out of a 3-way race in New York a year and a half before the election is...kinda foolish. A lot will have happened between now and 2012."

And besides, the leader has a plan for convincing Americans that difficult-to-swallow changes to Medicare are necessary and are on the horizon. "I'm going to quote Bill Clinton..."

Another reason McConnell said he was sure the Medicare problems facing the GOP now won't exist in 2012, is that by then, Democrats should also have skin in the game.

"I would think we will hopefully have done something significant in this area, and the American people can decide whether they want to punish both sides for having done that, because it will take both sides to do it," he said, citing a bipartisan compromise to preserve Social Security struck by former President Ronald Reagan and former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, D-Mass.

When asked if Republicans need to work harder to sell the fact that drastic reforms are necessary to rescue the nation from the fiscal cliff, McConnell, looking a bit exasperated, chuckled and said, "I'm trying to do that."

Reporters can be stubborn people sometimes.