Mother Jones magazine, evidently looking to make a name for itself as the top source for surreptitiously recorded conversations that embarrass Republicans, has published some audio from the strategy sessions held by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign. Horror of horrors, it sounds like they dared to conduct standard opposition research on actress Ashley Judd, who at the time was a potential challenger for the Senate seat McConnell occupied.
The Washington Post summarizes the meeting that got Mother Jones so worked up as follows:
While the tape isn???t particularly flattering to the McConnell campaign, the contents seem like standard opposition research. The meeting???s leader plays clips of Judd speaking on issues such as Christianity and her support for President Obama. Attendees point out ??? as other commentators had before them ??? that Judd???s liberal position on issues like the environment and abortion would likely not endear her to Kentucky voters.
There was also some talk about how Judd was “emotionally unbalanced” (having been treated for a breakdown in the 1990s) and the digging of political dirt on another possible McConnell challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, was discussed. Someone on McConnell’s staff memorably dubbed Judd’s assortment of political liabilities a “haystack of needles.”
It’s the sort of thing every political team talks about, and most likely paralleled the discussions held at Democrat Party headquarters about the impending train wreck of the Judd campaign, leading to the Democrats’ decision to scuttle Judd’s effort before it began.
Mother Jones clearly thinks it can do some damage to McConnell by getting worked up over his campaign team setting up a game of political hardball against a female candidate. (Does anyone know if the Mother Jones team had a stroke after learning that Barack Obama’s campaign coordinated with an effort to accuse Mitt Romney of killing a steelworker’s wife? That was infinitely worse than anything McConnell’s campaign was contemplating against Ashley Judd, and then you had Obama’s people lying profusely about it when they got caught.)
The problem for these intrepid liberal campaign police is that the real police want to ask a few questions about that clandestine recording. Specifically, McConnell’s campaign has contacted the FBI about a possible “Watergate-style” bugging, which would be illegal… unless, I gather, the recording was made under the table by a participant in the meeting, working as a left-wing mole in the McConnell campaign. There seems to be some doubt about whether such a recording would be illegal, but hidden bugs planted in the room definitely would be. For the moment, Mother Jones is keeping the source anonymous.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has asked the Democrats to denounce the wiretapping of McConnell’s campaign – a request greeted with literal laughter by Democratic Party communications director Brad Woodhouse:
LOL!! RT @zekejmiller: NRSC calls on Reid, Schumer, DNC, DSCC, American Bridge, Think Progress, and OFA to denounce the McConnell audio leak
??? Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) April 9, 2013
So, Watergate tactics are fair game now. Good to know. Let’s get some moles and recorders planted in Democrat campaign meetings, and see what they talk about, especially when they’re running against a female Republican candidate.