Young Mitch McConnell: His Early Life and Political Career : Embedded What is it about Mitch? How did a politician famous for his lack of charisma become one of the most powerful men in Washington? This week, we continue our deep dive into the world of Mitch McConnell, looking back on his early years as an up-and-coming politician.
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Essential Mitch: The Early Years

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Essential Mitch: The Early Years

Essential Mitch: The Early Years

Essential Mitch: The Early Years

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/935889300/936003060" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mitch McConnell was elected Jefferson County judge-executive in 1977 and was re-elected in 1981. Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images hide caption

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Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Mitch McConnell was elected Jefferson County judge-executive in 1977 and was re-elected in 1981.

Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The way Mitch McConnell tells it, he was not one of the cool kids growing up. He wore an "I Like Ike" button in his fifth grade picture. He sat in front of the TV and watched both political conventions in full in 1956. Still, when he was a junior in high school, he decided to run for student council president. This was not an easy task for a nerdy kid without a lot of charisma. But, even then, Mitch McConnell was a pragmatist. He knew what he needed to do.

"To win the election, I needed to run a better campaign," McConnell wrote in his book, The Long Game.

And so he did. He sought out and won the endorsements of the most popular kids in school, like Pete Dudgeon, an all-city football player and Janet Boyd, a well-known cheerleader. How? With an age-old tool: Flattery.

"Mitch had his own agenda," Boyd recalled. "He had a plan."

On this week's episode of Embedded, host Kelly McEvers goes back to Mitch's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to try to understand more about young Mitch McConnell and what those early years tell us about the politician he is today.


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