Martin Bashir
updated 4/9/2013 10:19:30 PM ET 2013-04-10T02:19:30

Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief David Corn said the most incriminating moments on tape were McConnell failing to stop his campaign from making below-the-belt attacks.

David Corn, a writer at Mother Jones, joined MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Tuesday to talk about a potentially damaging new audio recording—now being investigated by the FBI—that his organization unearthed of Sen. Mitch McConnell and his campaign team.

In the tape, people are overheard discussing three possible challengers to McConnell. However, the bulk of the recorded conversation concerns discussing—and often laughing at—a challenge from then-rumored candidate, actress Ashley Judd (who has since declined to run). Specifically, they single out her self-documented history of mental health issues as a possible attack line.

Corn said the interesting thing about the 11-minute tape isn’t what the opposition research team is saying about Judd, though.

“The oppo research people are doing what oppo research people do. It’s not a surprise,” Corn said.

Instead, he said, it’s the lack of reaction from Sen. McConnell, who can be heard at the beginning of the tape.

“At no time does he say, ‘I don’t want to go there,’” Corn said. And later: “He’s showing no real moral leadership.”

Corn added toward the end of the segment: “This is not the kind of politics that we Americans generally get to see.”

During a Republican Senate conference news conference this afternoon, Sen. McConnell responded to the report this way: “As you know, last month my wife’s ethnicity was attacked by a left wing group in Kentucky and then apparently they bugged my headquarters. So I think that pretty well sums-up the way political left is operating in Kentucky.”

Asked about the mental health comments on the tape, McConnell repeated that same line, calling the bugging a “Nixonian move.” Asked a third time about the mental health comments and McConnell repeated a similar version of his previous response.

Corn countered that McConnell was  “trying to talk about Watergate without talking about what actually happened.”

The tape begins with McConnell telling advisers and strategists: “I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole?” (Laughter.) This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign…when anybody sticks their head up, do them out.”

A presenter is then heard detailing the many ways that the McConnell campaign could politically attack Judd.

At one point an aide is heard saying, “”She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented.”

Mother Jones later reported that the McConnell campaign’s website was using the charge of “wiretapping” as a way to fundraise.


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