Mitch McConnell responds to leaked recording: ‘Nixonian’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday dodged questions about a recording of his top campaign staffers discussing tactics while repeatedly accusing the "political left" of "Nixonian tactics."

Asked about the tape, McConnell tied it to a recent tweet from a Democratic group, ProgressKentucky, that attacked his wife's Chinese heritage.

"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, so I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in Kentucky."

Asked specifically about the discussion of actress Ashley Judd's religion and struggle with depression as potential campaign issues, McConnell repeated himself.

"Last month they were attacking my wife's ethnicity and then apparently unbeknownst to us at the time they were bugging our headquarters, a quite Nixonian move. This is what you get from the political left in America these days," he said.

A third attempt to elicit a response on the tape's contents was quickly cut off with a similar response.

"As I indicated, last week they were attacking my wife's ethnicity and apparently also bugging my headquarters, much like Nixon in Watergate," McConnell said. "That's what the political left does these days."

A McConnell spokesman confirmed that the senator was not accusing ProgressKentucky of any specific involvement in the tape, only saying that both attacks came from the left.

The senator's campaign has asked for an FBI investigation into the recording and is using it to generate support for his reelection bid. It is similar to his reaction to the tweet about his wife, which McConnell highlighted in a campaign ad. There is no evidence as yet that his office was bugged; Mother Jones has said that the magazine was “not involved in the making of the tape” but that “it is our understanding that the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation.”

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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