Hot Mic Catches McConnell and Paul Working out the Best Shutdown Messaging

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 3 2013 11:40 AM

Hot Mic Catches McConnell and Paul Working out the Best Shutdown Messaging

The reporters at WPSD Local 6 in Kentucky have taught Rand Paul a valuable lesson: When Mitch McConnell says "I'm all wired up," don't go next to him and talk about the next PR moves in the shutdown fight.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

PAUL: I just did CNN, and I just go over and over again: "We're willing to compromise! We're willing to negotiate!" I don't think they poll tested "we won't negotiate." I think it's awful for [Democrats] to say that over and over again.
MCCONNELL: Yeah, I do too and I, and I just came back from that two hour meeting with them and that, and that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly.
PAUL: I think if we keep saying, "We wanted to defund it. We fought for that and that we're willing to compromise on this," I think they can't, we're gonna, I think... well, I know we don't want to be here, but we're gonna win this, I think.
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It's not altogether different from what Paul's been saying when he knows a mic is on—he's been pushing for a compromise that uses regular order to delay Obamacare for months. Actually, it's not even the most unhelpful thing a Republican has said about the shutdown this week. Take it away, Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman:

We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.

A viewer with basic powers of observation might notice that the focus is on winning the optics and narrative of the shutdown, and getting something, without a truly clear idea of the something.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.