The Actual Intention Behind That Awkward Mitch McConnell Video

Democrats are making jokes now, but they do this too.

National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
March 12, 2014, 6:31 a.m.

It is 2 minutes, 22 seconds of pure Mitch Mc­Con­nell. There he is, sign­ing pa­pers at his desk. Then, the sen­at­or from Ken­tucky looks up and straight in­to the cam­era as he cracks an awk­ward, high-cheekboned smile. In­stru­ment­al mu­sic plays quietly in the back­ground.

The mont­age of B-roll pos­ted on You­Tube was mocked mer­ci­lessly by Demo­crats on Twit­ter. Greg Greene, a Demo­crat­ic di­git­al strategist, cracked, “What rhymes with ‘stil­ted Wash­ing­ton in­sider’?”

But the video isn’t about pitch­ing Mc­Con­nell’s can­did­acy — at least not dir­ectly. It’s about co­ordin­at­ing with su­per PACs in plain sight.

Can­did­ates and the su­per PACs that sup­port them aren’t al­lowed to share videos, or any oth­er in­form­a­tion, in private. So cam­paigns have in­creas­ingly gone pub­lic, post­ing B-roll clips of their can­did­ates shak­ing hands with all sorts of con­stitu­ents in hopes that the im­ages wind up in fu­ture TV ads.

Hence, the Sen­ate minor­ity lead­er’s mont­age in­cludes clips of him with fel­low Ken­tucki­an Sen. Rand Paul stand­ing be­hind him; shak­ing hands with stu­dents and vet­er­ans; sit­ting be­side his wife; stand­ing in front of a “Wo­men for Mitch” sign; work­ing in his of­fice and saun­ter­ing down loc­al streets.

The Demo­crats do this too, as Roll Call‘s Nath­an Gonzales de­scribed in de­tail last month. But that didn’t stop Matt Canter, the Demo­crat­ic Sen­at­ori­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee’s deputy ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, from tweet­ing that the Mc­Con­nell clip “made me laugh aloud.”

And it’s true that Mc­Con­nell ap­pears some­what stil­ted and awk­ward in the clips. But if and when those im­ages are spliced in­to tele­vi­sion spots and blas­ted in­to Louis­ville liv­ing rooms this fall by a pro-Mc­Con­nell su­per PAC, the seni­or sen­at­or may be laugh­ing last.