McConnell Campaign Manager Disses McConnell

Benton under fire for speaking out against boss on recording.


Jesse Benton, a former spokesman for Ron Paul's presidential campaign, claims he was deceitfully recorded.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, is facing a primary challenger, a tough Democratic opponent and it appears now his own campaign manager in his race for re-election in 2014.

[POLL: Kentucky's Mitch McConnell Trails in Re-election Bid]

In a recording obtained by the Economic Policy Journal, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton, a libertarian who served as a spokesman for presidential contender Ron Paul, dismisses his job with McConnell as a convenient political opportunity.

"I am sorta holdin' my nose for two years, cause what we're doin' here is gonna be a big benefit to Rand in '16," Benton said.

Benton is a part of the Paul family and married to Ron Paul's granddaughter.

It was big news when Benton signed onto McConnell's 2014 re-election campaign earlier this year.

Pundits argued it would give McConnell a chance to tap into the libertarian base within the Republican Party.

And it signified a truce between McConnell and junior Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who had gone head-to-head at times in the bluegrass state.

Benton led Rand Paul's campaign in 2010 when he had challenged a McConnell-backed candidate in the GOP primary and won.

[READ: Rand Paul, Chris Christie Battle for GOP Soul]

In a campaign statement, Benton explained he had been surreptitiously recorded and dismissed accusations that he was not loyal to the campaign.

"It is truly sick that someone would record a private phone conversation I had out of kindness and use it to try to hurt me," Benton said. "I believe in Senator McConnell and am 100 percent committed to his re-election. Being selected to lead his campaign is one of the great honors of my life and I look forward to victory in November of 2014."

That did not stop McConnell's tea party opponent from using the moment to garner support for his own campaign.

"Even Mitch McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, thinks something stinks with the Mitch McConnell campaign," said Bevin spokeswoman Sarah Durand in an emailed statement. "McConnell's top guy realizes that his boss is not a true conservative, and after nearly 30 years of voting for big-government and big-spending bills, does not deserve to be re-elected. Fortunately, Kentucky voters have a real conservative in this race that all Republicans can be proud to support – Matt Bevin."

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Corrected 08/08/13: A previous version of this story misidentified Jesse Benton. He is a campaign manager.