On February 2, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, opened up his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and in front of several dozen supporters vowed to "point out" the weaknesses of any opponent fielded by the Democrats. "They want to fight? We're ready," he declared. McConnell was serious: Later that day, he was huddling with aides in a private meeting to discuss how to attack his possible Democratic foes, including actor/activist Ashley Judd, who was then contemplating challenging the minority leader. During this strategy session—a recording of which was obtained by Mother Jones—McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views.
The meeting was truly vile stuff.
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.
And they were going to just paint her a hippie weirdo flake. They were fully prepared to destroy her personally as well as politically and professionally. And yet this career politician, who has used his office to enrich himself by tens of millions of dollars, is the good guy here.
Now the McConnell campaign is demanding a full FBI investigation, claiming President Obama authorized "Watergate style tactics" of bugging the meeting, and promising anyone involved will be fully prosecuted...when of course McConnell ran into that ugly incident where his campaign left a recording device at the debate podium of opponent Bruce Lunsford in 2008.
The GOP is accusing Mother Jones and David Corn of bugging the meeting.
Mitch has got to go, folks.