Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on a conference call organized by Karl Rove’s Crossroads organization for large donors and their advisers on Oct. 30 that the Tea Party movement, in his view, is a “nothing but a bunch of bullies” that he plans to “punch … in the nose.”
On the call, according to a donor who was on it, McConnell personally named Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) as Tea Party conservatives he views as problematic for him. “The bulk of it was an attack on the Tea Party in general, Cruz in particular,” the source, a prominent donor, said in a phone interview with Breitbart News.
But the most memorable line came at the end of the call.
“McConnell said the Tea Party was ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies,’” the source said. “And he said ‘you know how you deal with schoolyard bullies? You punch them in the nose and that’s what we’re going to do.’”
Rove, as well as American Crossroads President and CEO Steven J. Law who also serves as the president of sister group Crossroads GPS, were also on the call. Rove “talked in a slightly gentler way, or let’s say, a more diplomatic way,” the source said. “But the message was pretty well the same: That if we’re going to save this thing, we have to back real Republicans.”
Pointing to how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just invoked the “nuclear option,” breaking 225-year old Senate rules to slip through President Obama’s liberal nominees, an aide to a Tea Party lawmaker said that McConnell’s focus on trying to go after the Tea Party has jeopardized Senate Republicans’ chances at actually beating Democrats. “Under Sen. McConnell’s watch, Republicans today just got rolled over by Democrats who pushed the button on the nuclear option, destroying years of well-established Senate order,” the aide said in an email to Breitbart News. “Perhaps if he focused less on destroying the Tea Party and more on defeating Democrats, he’d have more to show for his leadership.”
Rove spokesman Jonathan Collegio denies that anything was said about Cruz, Lee, or the Tea Party in general but admits the call did take place and that “some discussion” about the government shutdown and the Senate Conservatives Fund took place.
“Your source is ascribing things to the call that simply were never said,” Collegio said in an email. “There was no ‘anti-tea party donor call.’ There was a call, and there was some discussion about the government shutdown and the Senate Conservatives Fund (note this was one day after SCF launched a dishonest ad about McConnell), but nothing about the Tea Party or Sens. Cruz or Lee.”
Collegio declined to provide a transcript or recording of the call to Breitbart News. McConnell’s office has not commented on the matter.