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Collateral Damage in a GOP Civil War
National Review ^ | November 25, 2013 4:00 AM | Jonathan Strong

Posted on 11/25/2013 9:09:33 AM PST by SharpRightTurn

On Tuesday, November 12, Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse walked into Mitch McConnell’s office to clear the air. Contrary to the rumors, Sasse wanted to say, he hadn’t secretly vowed to oppose McConnell’s leadership if elected. In fact, he hadn’t been asked to make such a pledge and would never have even considered it.

That was the plan, anyway.

As soon as Sasse sat down, McConnell lit into him, criticizing him for working with the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) as well as for posting a viral YouTube video in which he demanded “every Republican in Washington, starting with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to show some actual leadership.”

Republicans in Washington familiar with these kinds of sessions say the Kentucky Republican’s specialty is long, tension-filled pauses. But even for McConnell, this was awkward. Josh Holmes, McConnell’s top political hand, privately told friends afterward it was the most uncomfortable meeting he’d been in.

Following the initial exchange came a series of questions about exactly when Sasse had first interacted with Matt Hoskins, the hard-charging executive director of SCF working to elect McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin, in Kentucky.

Sasse’s answers, several Republicans familiar with the episode say, did nothing to mitigate the minority leader’s anger.

As he walked out of the room, Sasse turned to Holmes — “That didn’t go well!”

The nation’s youngest university president (Nebraska’s Midland University), Sasse has become the latest collateral damage in a GOP civil war between McConnell and Holmes, on the one side, and Matt Hoskins and Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, Hoskins’s political godfather.

After Hoskins invaded enemy territory October 18 in backing Bevin, McConnell has launched a campaign against his vendors, his allies, and candidates he has endorsed — beginning with a blacklisting of GOP ad firm Jamestown Associates.

Last week, for example, pressure from McConnell allies convinced SCF’s bookkeeper, Lisa Lisker, to part ways with the group. Lisker has previously worked for Republican candidates locked in tense primary elections without incident, sources say.

But with Majority Leader Harry Reid detonating the nuclear option in the background, the notion that his accountant had become part of an intra-GOP war incensed Hoskins. “It’s amazing that the Senate Republican leader is now bullying bookkeepers in his war on conservatives, but it won’t stop us from supporting Matt Bevin,” he says.

McConnell’s camp was likewise livid with Hoskins when SCF improbably blamed him for Reid’s actions, saying “Harry Reid did this because he knows Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will let him get away with it” in an e-mail to the group’s supporters.

McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore’s on-the-record response was unusually caustic. “That argument is so profoundly stupid that it is hard to fully ascertain whether their deficiency is in math or logic,” she told the Daily Caller.

Meanwhile, Breitbart News reported that McConnell exclaimed he wanted to punch tea-party “bullies . . . in the nose” on an October 30 conference call organized by American Crossroads.

Crossroads brought Washington Examiner reporter Charlie Spiering to its offices to review the audio, showing McConnell had said he wanted to punch SCF specifically in the nose. That’s more in line with McConnell’s aims, which aides explain is to isolate the Hoskins group.

The Breitbart story triggered Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin to issue a scathing comment about McConnell as well as make private vows to take further action.

Of all these incidents, however, the Sasse episode is most notable because it involves an attractive, promising candidate in an open primary as collateral damage in the intramural fight..

Sasse’s YouTube video calling out McConnell by name — one of several Sasse videos prominently featured on the Drudge Report — came out September 23. But insiders say the bad blood between Sasse and McConnell escalated several weeks ago at a meeting between Sasse and National Republican Senatorial Committee political director Ward Baker.

There Sasse delivered a pitch that included suggesting he was the “smartest” candidate in the race. As a university president with an undergrad degree from Harvard, Ph.D. from Yale, and several prestigious academic awards to his name, it’s understandable why the candidate would think that.

His rivals, though, have begun to parody the claim, forwarding around an e-mail his fundraising consultant sent October 30 with the subject line “Take a Chance on Smart.” (“Sometimes, like when you meet your future spouse, you just know you’ve found the one,” the e-mail gushes; campaign officials subsequently asked the consultant to stop using the appeal.) Asked about Sasse at a recent D.C. fundraiser, McConnell deadpanned that “he’s definitely smart.” The subsequent meeting between the two went terribly. But McConnell has yet to provide active assistance to Sasse’s chief rival in the race, Shane Osborn. Osborn, a decorated veteran who was piloting the spy plane forced down by a Chinese fighter jet in 2001, would undoubtedly appreciate the help. But the former pilot, critics note, sought SCF’s endorsement, too.

By all accounts, Sasse — whom The Weekly Standard recently heralded as being able to bridge the divide between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party — never wanted a fight with McConnell. In 2013, however, it’s becoming clear that being Switzerland isn’t really an option.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: ditchmitch; karlrove; mcconnell; nebraska; primarymcconnell; sasse; senate
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McConnell continues his war on conservatives. He is open about his contempt for Tea Partiers, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and the Senate Conservatives Fund. McConnell must be defeated in 2014, even if it is by the Dim.
1 posted on 11/25/2013 9:09:34 AM PST by SharpRightTurn
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To: SharpRightTurn
So that's who McConnell is able to stand up to - other Republicans.
2 posted on 11/25/2013 9:11:59 AM PST by wideawake
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To: SharpRightTurn; All
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3 posted on 11/25/2013 9:13:11 AM PST by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: SharpRightTurn

I’m old enough to remember when McConnell was a fairly decent U.S. Senator. That was sometime before the turn of the century.

4 posted on 11/25/2013 9:13:13 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: SharpRightTurn

That McConnell sure is one scary guy.

5 posted on 11/25/2013 9:14:55 AM PST by skeeter
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To: SharpRightTurn

I say ‘double the rate of fire.’

6 posted on 11/25/2013 9:14:58 AM PST by EternalVigilance ("The simplification of anything is always sensational." - GK Chesterton)
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To: SharpRightTurn

Those who are looking to sip lemonade and exchange pleasantries need to get out of the way!

Yeah, this is going to be rough and maybe even a bit messy, but this is the hard work that needs to be done. If this isn’t your cup of tea then you need to rethink what you need to be doing in life.

The GOP-e NEVER fights any harder than when they fight against Conservatives. They lick the boots of their Democrat overlords and are always careful not to anger them. The GOP-e is ever careful to be bipartisan so they don’t incur the anger of the corrupt MSM, but when it comes to Conservatives, then the GOP-e are the tough guys who are all too willing to go to the mat and fight.

This ain’t no grandma party! We need to fight.

7 posted on 11/25/2013 9:17:01 AM PST by Obadiah (I Like Ted.)
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To: SharpRightTurn

McConnell must be crushed...and it needs to be very painful

Anyone being supported by the NRSC or McConnell cannot be conservative

8 posted on 11/25/2013 9:18:34 AM PST by SeminoleCounty (2014: Real Conservatives Only, Please)
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To: EternalVigilance
Support Matt Bevin to oust Mitch McConnell in KY
9 posted on 11/25/2013 9:19:09 AM PST by Paine in the Neck (Socialism consumes everything)
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To: SharpRightTurn

Using the rules, McConnell has the ability to bring the Senate to a complete stop after the Dems’ filibuster outrage. He won’t because he’s useless.

10 posted on 11/25/2013 9:20:33 AM PST by pabianice (LINE)
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To: musicman

Clever graphic.

That being said, that’s just it, we’re not on the same team.

Because of their lack of leadership, their lack of fidelity to conservative principles, and their collaboration with our enemy, the Marxist Democrats, the GOP-E Leadership are our de-facto enemy.

11 posted on 11/25/2013 9:22:20 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: SharpRightTurn

The cure for this dolt is Matt Bevins

12 posted on 11/25/2013 9:27:04 AM PST by Nifster
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To: SharpRightTurn

Unemployment to all RINO traitors!

13 posted on 11/25/2013 9:27:53 AM PST by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: SharpRightTurn

McConnell has his fingerprints all over the massive cuts to the military.

McConnell tells budget negotiators to keep sequester cuts

McConnell to House GOP: Hold Line on Sequester

McConnell is selling out the US military, and he has resisted softening the cuts to National Defense at every step. During last year's "fiscal cliff" negotiations, it was he that insisted the cuts take place, despite their damage to the military.

And he is doing all of this while there are zero cuts to Entitlements - and HE has been there from the beginning, including the 2011 Budget Control Act formula that punished the DoD with 50% of the Sequester cuts despite being only 17% of the budget.

Screw this guy.

14 posted on 11/25/2013 9:33:34 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SharpRightTurn

I don’t understand why Sasse would be walking into McConnell’s office in the first place. He is endorsed by SCF same as McConnell’s opponent Matt Bevin, why wouldn’t his attitude toward McConnell be that McConnell can go pound sand, just like Bevin and the rest of us? Is Sasse starting to feel compelled to suck up to McConnell already? Not sure why he should care what McConnell thinks of him, or why he should feel compelled to reassure McConnell of anything. Reminds me of Rand Paul somehow feeling compelled to endorse McConnell, what a disappointment that was as well. Sasse needs to choose between SCF support and making Mitch McConnell happy if he wants my support through SCF.

15 posted on 11/25/2013 9:33:40 AM PST by Reddon
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To: SharpRightTurn

In the upcoming election to replace retiring RINO traitor Saxby Chambliss for Senator from Georgia, I am perfectly, PERFECTLY willing to have a young buck Conservative win the Republican nomination to replace him. I don’t care if he/she will win a coveted committee seat, nice office, or bring home the pork barrel bacon. I only want him/her to rein in and NOT vote for McConnell as minority leader, not be a go-along, get-along appeaser or any of that RINO crap.

I want a bomb thrower, I want a zealous, committed CONSERVATIVE warrior up to the task. I want a warrior that cares more about his family, children and neighbors back home than the assholes in Washington DC.

I want a warrior that isn’t afraid to come back home (often) and put his/her hand on the Bible and swear they did what we wanted. That’s all I want. I could give a sh!t about McConnell.

16 posted on 11/25/2013 9:38:29 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: wideawake

“So that’s who McConnell is able to stand up to - other Republicans.”

Right. He’s willing to fight to the death with conservatives. With Reid, Schumer, and other leftists his strongest punch is to “regret the actions of the Democrats.”

17 posted on 11/25/2013 9:39:08 AM PST by SharpRightTurn
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To: skeeter

“That McConnell sure is one scary guy.”

It really is remarkable that the GOP’s senate minority leader is so openly hostile to conservatives. If he was just a backbencher it would be bad enough. But that he is the Republican leader in the Senate says a lot about where these establishment Republicans stand.

18 posted on 11/25/2013 9:41:34 AM PST by SharpRightTurn
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To: EternalVigilance

“I say ‘double the rate of fire.’”

Agreed. I hope the Senate Conservatives Fund, Madison Project, and Club for Growth can collectively raise enough money for Bevin to effectively offset the stash of cash McConnell will get from K Street lobbyists.

19 posted on 11/25/2013 9:43:04 AM PST by SharpRightTurn
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To: pabianice
Using the rules, McConnell has the ability to bring the Senate to a complete stop after the Dems’ filibuster outrage. He won’t because he’s useless.

And according to my limited understanding of Senate rules as such, there were ways he could have keep ObamaCare off the floor for a vote.

I repeat what I firmly believe. McConnell and the GOPe not only did not want to stop OC, he/they *wanted* it to pass, and just as it did, on a straight party line vote.

McConnell's visceral hate of conservatives is proof that we will never be on the same team. It is also proof that the GOPe doesn't really want control of congress. Or that they are mentally ill to believe they can do it without conservatives.

20 posted on 11/25/2013 9:44:24 AM PST by ChildOfThe60s ((If you can remember the weren't really there)
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