Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mitch McConnell Compares Tape of His Meeting Trashing Ashley Judd to Watergate

Mitch McConnell:  "I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole? This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign"

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… 

Once again David Corn of Mother Jones has set off a firestorm with a tape he was given - this time Minority Leader McConnell is out to take him down along with the left:
Secret Tape: McConnell and Aides Weighed Using Judd's Mental Health and Religion as Political Ammo (Tue Apr. 9, 2013 3:00 AM PDT) 
A recording of a private meeting between the Senate GOP leader and campaign aides reveals how far they were willing to go to defeat the actor/activist.

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.") 
For much of the Judd discussion, McConnell was silent as aides reviewed the initial oppo research they had collected on Judd and weighed all the ways they could pummel her. The recording was provided to Mother Jones last week by a source who requested anonymity. (The recording can be found here; a transcript is here.) McConnell's Senate office and his campaign office did not respond to requests for comment. 
The aide who led the meeting began his presentation with a touch of glee: "I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there's a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material." He ran through the obvious: Judd was a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama, Obamacare, abortion rights, gay marriage, and climate change action. He pointed out that she is "anti-coal." 
But the McConnell gang explored going far beyond Judd's politics and policy preferences. This included her mental health. The meeting leader noted:

She's clearly, this sounds extreme, 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.
Read More at Mother Jones
These are the updates to the story at Mother Jones:
Update: Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, released a statement responding to this story on Tuesday morning: "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." 
Update 2: The McConnell campaign has reportedly asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney's office in Louisville to investigate how the tape was made. 
Update 3: Here is more from Benton, via NBC News: "Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings. Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Sen. McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished will presumably be the subject of a criminal investigation." 
Update 4/Mother Jones Statement: We are still waiting for Sen. Mitch McConnell to comment on the substance of the story. Before posting this article, we contacted his Senate office and his campaign office—in particular, his campaign manager, Jesse Benton—and no one responded. As the story makes clear, we were recently provided the tape by a source who wished to remain anonymous. We were not involved in the making of the tape, but we published a story on the tape due to its obvious newsworthiness. It is our understanding that the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation. We cannot comment beyond that.
CBS weighed in this morning with this headline at 10:32 am and contained the comments excerpted below from Ashley Judd's spokesman:
McConnell aides secretly taped ripping Ashley Judd
ByLucy Madison /
CBS News/ April 9, 2013, 10:32 AM 
 In a statement, a spokesperson for Judd blasted the "politics of personal destruction" she said "embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington DC." 
"We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter," Cara Tripicchio, Judd's spokeswoman, told CBSNews.com in an email. "Every day it becomes clearer how much we need change in Washington from this kind of rhetoric and actions." 
That didn't take long after initially inferring it was ProgressKY since they had made a comment about McConnell's wife and China which McConnell played the victim to the hilt.  Let me get this straight it is okay if he wants to play 'wack-a-mole' with opponents just not okay for anyone to dare say anything about him or his wife who BTW was a cabinet member under Bush 43.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused the “political left” of bugging his campaign headquarters after a secret tape emerged of a strategy session regarding Ashley Judd’s potential candidacy and her mental health. 
“Well, as you know, last month my wife’s ethnicity was attacked by a left-wing group in Kentucky and then apparently they also bugged my headquarters,” McConnell said during his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon. “So I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in Kentucky.”
The audio recording of the February strategy session was obtained by David Corn of Mother Jones from an unnamed source and published Tuesday morning. In the audio recording, participants in the session discussed Judd’s mental health history and referred to her as being “emotionally unbalanced.” (Judd ultimately decided not to challenge McConnell.) 
The left-wing group McConnell was referring to was ProgressKY, which launched a series of attacks invoking the Taiwanese ethnicity of his wife, Elaine Chao, last month. Amid some confusion over his remarks, McConnell’s spokesman clarified that he wasn’t accusing ProgressKY of bugging his headquarters. 
“He said political left,” Don Stewart, the minority leader’s spokesman, said in an email. “I don’t think he said the words ‘ProgressKY.’”
Read More of the story at Talking Points Memo 

From Talking Points Memo, the DSCC is going after McConnell calling for an apology for what was said on the tape.  I wouldn't be holding my breathe for an apology.  About time the gloves off as McConnell has always played the victim when he is one of nastiest campaigners I have ever seen which goes back years.  Kentucky is really a knock down/drag out state when it comes to politics and McConnell plays it as well as anyone.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday called on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to apologize for the content of a secret audio recording of the Kentucky Republican and his campaign strategizing about how to attack potential challenger actress Ashley Judd, including using Judd's past struggles with depression. The recording was surfaced by Mother Jones Tuesday. 
"According to an audio tape of a meeting between Senator Mitch McConnell and his official and campaign staff, Senator McConnell is using taxpayer-funded legislative aides to do opposition research for his reelection campaign and is insulting millions of Americans who suffer from depression," a press release from the DSCC read. 
"Mitch McConnell is desperate to play the victim. The DSCC doesn't know if this tape came from a disgruntled Senate staffer who was forced to dig up dirt on their boss' potential opponents or another source, but its content is a clear example of how Mitch McConnell is the living, breathing embodiment of everything that is wrong with Washington," DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecile said in a statement. "It is beneath the office of Minority Leader to engage in this kind of trivial politics. He should apologize to the millions of Americans who suffer from depression and don't believe it’s a laughing matter."
Please pass the popcorn as this could get even more interesting with McConnell asking for an FBI investigation.  Stay tuned.

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