Skip to main content

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) makes a point about his meeting with President Barack Obama regarding the country's debt ceiling, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington May 12, 2011.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   (UNITED STA
In a Feb. 2 meeting that was secretly recorded and published today by David Corn of Mother Jones, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained his "Whac-A-Mole" reelection strategy to his campaign staff: "When anybody sticks their head up," he said, "do them out."

The focus of the meeting was opposition research on Ashley Judd, who at the time was considering a bid. McConnell and his staff discussed how to attack her on everything from her political views to the fact that she had considered suicide as a sixth-grader. It was pretty nasty stuff and definitely not the kind of meeting an unpopular senator seeking reelection should want to be associated with.

Despite McConnell's "do them out" strategy, the campaign actually appeared to relish the possibility of facing Judd in a general election. In fact, other than facing no candidate at all, they seemed to believe Judd was their version of Sharron Angle. But unlike Angle, Judd decided not run—and unlike Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell is now on tape with his campaign staff salivating over the prospect of facing what he believed would be a weak opponent.

The meeting also discussed another potential McConnell opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's Democratic secretary of state. Unlike Judd, McConnell's opposition research on Grimes basically came up empty. Grimes, who is 34 and a rising star in the state, hasn't decided to run, but if she does, McConnell's "Whac-A-Mole" plan appears to be in serious jeopardy.

To the extent that the tape is damaging for McConnell, I think it's that by saying that his political fortunes depend on having weak opposition, he's effectively conceding the weakness of his own record. Obviously, denying your opponents oxygen is a tried and true political tactic, but it's one thing to do it and it's another thing to say you're doing it, because by saying you're doing, you basically are admitting you don't have anything else. And given that McConnell is still the most unpopular senator in the country, that's not a good position to be in.

Predictably, McConnell is responding to the story by trying to deflect focus from what he said to questions about how the tape was obtained. In a statement, the campaign accused "the Left" of "Watergate-style" tactics, but provided no evidence that the tape was recorded by opponents of McConnell on the left. A source "close" to McConnell's campaign told CNN that the FBI has been asked to investigate how the recording was made. But however it was made, what McConnell said on the recording was crystal clear: to win, he needs to annihilate his opponents before the campaign even begins.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site