Mitch McConnell: Money and Politics, Pt 2 : Embedded A lot of us don't pay much attention to money in politics. But Mitch McConnell does. And unlike most politicians, he speaks bluntly in favor of more political spending, not less. That stance led to a long battle with one Senator, who fought McConnell harder than just about anyone else.
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Essential Mitch: The Money, Part 2

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Essential Mitch: The Money, Part 2

Essential Mitch: The Money, Part 2

Essential Mitch: The Money, Part 2

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/940793911/940886911" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mitch McConnell talk to reporters after a meeting on the campaign finance reform bill in 2002. Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mitch McConnell talk to reporters after a meeting on the campaign finance reform bill in 2002.

Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images

Mitch McConnell has proudly called himself "the spear catcher" for the Republican party on campaign finance. When opponents launch arrows, hoping to burst the money bubble that lingers over Washington, McConnell blocks them. Over the years, he has repeatedly rejected the argument that there's too much money in politics.

"Where did this notion get going that we were spending too much in campaigns — compared to what?" McConnell likes to ask.

He's used versions of this compared-to-what line for decades.

Americans have spent more on potato chips than on politics, he's said. And on bubble gum, bottled water, yogurt.

Most politicians do not talk so bluntly in favor of money in politics. The same is true of most American voters. They too support limits on campaign spending, fearing that without them, big donors will have too much influence. But longtime political reporter and columnist Al Cross says the fact that McConnell was one of the very few senators out defending the system helped him get ahead.

"I think McConnell saw that his ability to defend it and his willingness to defend it as a route to leadership."

This week, Embedded takes a close look at a Senate showdown between Mitch McConnell and Senator John McCain, a showdown that highlights how deeply aligned money and power tend to be in Washington.


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