Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager doesn’t love him. So?

August 8, 2013

Not beloved by all members of his staff! (Getty Images)

As part of his ongoing effort to shore up his right flank, Mitch McConnell tapped Jesse Benton, Rand Paul's 2010 campaign manager, to lead his reelection effort. The fact that Benton had worked for Rand Paul -- who McConnell had opposed in the Republican primary! -- should've been a tip-off that this was more a marriage of political convenience than a case of true love. But now, thanks to a surreptitiously recorded phone conversation between Benton and an ex-friend, we've got Benton dissing McConnell on the record:

I am, well between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years, ‘cause what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in 16 so. That’s my long vision.

This has sent shudders of glee through the political class because it's August and politics right now is boring. But there's nothing here.

1) It's hardly news that campaigns are composed of hired guns, many of whom don't love, and sometimes don't even like, the people they work for. Benton's comments are on the milder end of that spectrum.

2) These were, remember, private comments. People deserve to have their private comments to people they thought were their friends left off-the-record. If they're not left off-the-record, the rest of us should have a good reason before making too much of them. Some campaign hack admitting he doesn't love his boss is not a good reason.

3) The actually newsworthy thing here is the effort by Dennis Fusaro, the leaker, to prove that Ron Paul's presidential campaign paid off a state senator in Iowa to switch his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Paul. That's a more legitimate scandal, if it can be proven. But this doesn't prove it. In the call, Fusaro confronts Benton about the payoff, and Benton says he knows nothing about it, and asks Fusaro to send him some proof. Fusaro told the National Review he never sent any because he didn't trust Benton.

McConnell's tweet making light of the situation (and taking a gratuitous and nonsensical swipe at Obamacare) basically seems like the right response here.

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Brad Plumer · August 8, 2013