A new leaked tape from Mother Jones reveals that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his campaign staff were eager to discredit actress Ashley Judd had she decided to challenge his Senate seat in 2014.
The tape provides a look at high-profile campaign opposition work hardball. In the audio, a strategist for McConnell breaks down how the campaign planned to cast Judd as a serious weirdo, including attacking her mental health and religious beliefs.
“She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented,” the meeting leader says in the tape. “Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.”
Beyond that, the strategist also played a series of statements made by Judd that make her sound quirky, at best.
Here’s two choice Judd statements that had McConnell’s staff in stitches:
I call it the American anesthesia. You know, I come back to this country. I freak out in airports. The colours, the sounds, all those different ways of packaging the same snack but trying to, you know, make it look like it’s distinct and different and convince consumers that they have to have it. I mean all of that. The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.
I still choose the God of my understanding as the God of my childhood. I have to expand my God concept from time to time, and you know particularly I enjoy native faith practices, and have a very nature-based God concept. I’d like to think I’m like St. Francis in that way. Brother Donkey, Sister Bird.
The McConnell campaign has reacted with outrage to the tape, and said Tuesday that they are “working with the FBI” to figure out who provided the audio to David Corn, the Mother Jones Washington bureau chief famous for publishing the leaked Mitt Romney “47 per cent” tape last summer.
“We’ve always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond,” McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement to Business Insider.
“Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings. Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”
Here’s the full recording, courtesy of Mother Jones:
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