Earlier, I had an opportunity to meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as he made his way through Radio Row. Unfortunately, the noise will make it hard to hear the soft-spoken Kentuckian’s answers to my questions, and the noise wasn’t all inadvertent, either. A CBS reporter got into an argument with a member of McConnell’s security team about horning in on my interview, and you can hear the result in the first couple of minutes:
If you can’t make out everything that McConnell says, I’ll recap it. He doesn’t profess a lot of surprise over how the media has treated Sarah Palin, noting that they have long had a double standard for conservative women. What’s off limits in terms of attacks on Democratic women becomes fair game for women on the right — especially for those who rose on their own volition, apparently.
McConnell also doesn’t see this as all bad, or even primarily bad. He doesn’t think Americans will believe the nasty attacks that have all been rapidly debunked. In fact, he believes that the controversy will get more Americans to watch Palin’s speech tonight, and he has no doubt that the Governor’s appearance will make believers out of anyone who does tune in. After last night’s ratings, the Republicans need a draw, and Palin will almost certainly provide it.
For McCain, though, McConnell advises that he hit hard on energy policy. He thinks that could turn economic issues into a strength rather than a liability for McCain. McConnell believes that Americans have the pragmatic solutions they want, and Obama and the Democrats represent the obstructionism that has driven gas prices out of sight.
One last point, for those who believe that Republicans have bothered looking at an “Eagleton” option: McConnell rightly notes that Palin has “electrified” this convention, and no one here wants a retreat in the face of a series of vicious, unsupported smears.
Update: Photo courtesy Fausta Wertz.