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.