FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Friday, December 22, 2017

WATCH: Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Makes 2 Arizona-Related Muffs Back-to-Back

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did begin his annual year-end news conference by explaining he's been fighting a cold, so perhaps his two back-to-back Arizona-related fumbles 15 minutes into the questioning are understandable. The 2nd one was a minor bobble that he immediately recovered, but the 1st one is more significant.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) has been widely expected to announce that she is running to replace the retiring Jeff Flake in the Senate. However, she has held back and appears to be pulling back from the anticipated announcement since it was leaked that she had told several of her House colleagues that she would run.* That has led many to speculate that she has received assurances that she will eventually replace the ailing Sen. John McCain.

However, the official word is that she is NOT a candidate.

So, imagine reporters' surprise** today when McConnell decided he would hold her out as one of two examples of "great candidates" that he has recruited to help Republicans retain control of the Senate next year. (Missouri's Josh Hawley is the other example.)

The slip certainly lends credence to the speculation about McSally's strategy and sudden reluctance to announce. And, it in no way was related to McConnell's slip seconds later when a reporter asked him his thoughts about McCain.

"He's the finest person I've served with," McConnell began. "And watching him fight his way through this healthcare... uh, health struggle." McCain cast the deciding thumbs-down to a major effort to repeal Obamacare earlier this year.

(The video starts with his McSally answer.)

*As reported by Arizona's Politics, someone using a House of Representatives' URL last week removed McSally from a Wikipedia article listing candidates running to replace Flake.
**h/t to Washington Post reporter Paul Kane.
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