By Sam Youngman
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul brushed off criticisms Thursday that a conversation he had with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which was caught by a microphone, reflected a crass political strategy Republicans are pursuing during the federal government shutdown.
The so-called hot mic exchange between the two men shows Paul discussing Republican strategy for winning the public relations battle over the shutdown, which most polls indicate Americans blame on Republicans.
“I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re going to win this, I think,” Paul said to McConnell as the two men paused between television interviews.
In a statement, Paul scoffed at the idea he had been caught doing or saying anything wrong.
“Everything that was said ‘in private’ was also said just minutes earlier in front of cameras during a CNN and a Fox interview,” Paul said.
Paul’s staff added that the senator has said repeatedly he thought a federal government shutdown was a bad idea and he continues to believe that Republicans have been willing to compromise while Democrats have not.