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This story is just starting to emerge right now. A tape of Mitch McConnell and his aides looking for ways to trash a potential opponent, Ashley Judd has just been made public thanks to Mother Jones.

Secret Tape: McConnell and Aides Weighed Using Judd's Mental Health and Religion as Political Ammo

By David Corn

Last month, Judd announced she wouldn't challenge McConnell, whose reelection campaign could become one of the most watched races of the 2014 cycle (if a serious Democratic opponent emerges). But at the February 2 meeting, McConnell and his team were fixated on Judd. McConnell told his aides that at the early stage of the campaign they had to clobber any potential challenger:

"I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole?” (Laughter.) "This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign…when anybody sticks their head up, do them out."

Referring to the Louisville newspaper, he continued, "And we're even planning to do it with the Courier here shortly"—indicating he was eager for battle with the media. (A female aide piped up, "We're anxious for that.")

Full Transcript and Audio of Mitch McConnell Campaign's Meeting on Ashley Judd

Sen. Mitch McConnell: If I could interject…I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole? [Laughter.] This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign…when anybody sticks their head up, do them out, and we're even planning to do it with the Courier here shortly, so…

Female voice: We're anxious for that. [Laughter.]

Male voice: You guys…

Presenter: So I'll just preface my comments that this reflects the work of a lot of folks: Josh, Jesse, Phil Maxson, a lot of LAs, thank them three times, so this is a compilation of work, all the way through. The first person we'll focus on, Ashley Judd—basically I refer to her as sort of the oppo research situation where there's a haystack of needles, just because truly, there's such a wealth of material. [Laughter.]

Presenter: Example, there…Clearly a theme that's easy to hit is that she's an out-of-touch, Hollywood liberal, and her grandmother, Polly Judd, referred to her as that. She was critical of the party in the '90s, the traditional Democratic Party, for giving too much support to the center and away from the left. You can see that quote below that kind of accentuates that. Another thing is she's clearly anti-coal. She's tweeted that "the era of the coal plant is over, unacceptable, it's the dirtiest. We in the US can do better, we need to innovate."

She wrote in the Hill, "Coal companies say Appalachia needs mining for jobs. Again, false." "We can see here coal is a 19th-century fuel, this my friends is the 21st century." [Editor's note: The previous sentence quoted here was not from Judd's Hill op-ed but from her blog].

I've omitted all of her mountaintop removal stuff. It's a whole separate category. It doesn't quite test as well. But she has, we have her on film, she's led protests. She's done speeches at National Press Club condemning mountaintop removal.

And then she's also on the record for climate change and cap and trade.

Judd lets herself be swayed by mere science!

Their discussion goes on to portray Judd as anti-Christian and anti-Family.

Here's the whole tape.

Robin Abcarian writes at the LA Times:  

Secret tape of McConnell bashing Ashley Judd: Anatomy of a smear

The voices on the tape cover a laundry list of potential attack points, none of which is especially shocking:

She “openly supports” President Obama. She’s an “out of touch” Hollywood liberal. She once said San Francisco is her “American city home” and has a cellphone with a 415 prefix. She’s against coal, for cap-and-trade. She supports Obamacare, abortion rights and gay marriage. She views Christianity as a “vestige of patriarchy.” She enjoys “native faith practices” and has used the phrase “Brother Donkey” and “Sister Bird” to describe animals.

And then comes the rough stuff: “This sounds extreme,” says a voice on the tape, “but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it's been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s.”

UPDATE: McConnell is making the most of this tape's publication claiming Mother Jones was using "illegal and underhanded tactics"
McConnell campaign cries foul over Ashley Judd strategy tape leak

In a statement, McConnell's campaign manager Jesse Benton attacked the recording of a confidential meeting. "We've always said the Left will stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Nixonian tactics to bug campaign headquarters is above and beyond," he said.

McConnell Asks FBI to Investigate Secret Tape—Then Fundraises Off It

                               

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