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What's McConnell's Role in the Fiscal Cliff Drama? What's McConnell's Role in the Fiscal Cliff Drama?

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What's McConnell's Role in the Fiscal Cliff Drama?


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens to questions at a news conference following a GOP strategy session at the Capitol this week.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might head the Senate Republican Conference, but if the fiscal cliff negotiations were a movie, he'd be cast as the best friend—not the lead. 

That's according to our National Journal Daily colleagues, who report today on the dynamic between McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. Here's Nancy Cook: 

"McConnell has not emerged as a huge presence in the ongoing fiscal-cliff narrative. That’s a change from past budget and tax deals where his fingerprints were evident—and a fact that could affect the final outcome or subtleties of the deal.
Aides to both McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner say the two men and their staffs talk at least once a day, but right now, the deal is Boehner’s to close with President Obama. “The negotiations are being done by the speaker and the president,” said Don Stewart, McConnell’s communications director."

So what explains this new dynamic? Here's Cook again:

Former McConnell aides and Senate colleagues describe his role now not as one of key deal-maker but as Boehner’s chief supporter: the man who repeats the Republican message for the party faithful, the one who can provide the space for Boehner to appear conciliatory and open.

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