‘Whole New Ballgame’; Mitchell Goes Gaga for ‘Louisville Slugger’ McGrath Facing McConnell

As GOP pollster Logan Dobson pointed out on Twitter, it’s been all hands on deck over the last 24 hours for NBC. The network has partnered with its journalists and platforms (including MSNBC) to give former Marine, and failed Kentucky congressional candidate, Amy McGrath (D) the full Beto O’Rourke treatment Tuesday morning, in order to boost her campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

MSNBC host and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell did her part on her eponymous MSNBC show, gushing about how “Louisville Slugger” McGrath will complicate “Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's fight to hold the Senate in 2020” and thus trigger “a whole new ballgame.”

 

 

“Coming up, Louisville Slugger. The Kentucky Democrat and former Marine pilot who announced this morning that she is challenging Senator Mitch McConnell for his seat,” Mitchell swooned in a tease. 

After the break, Mitchell got ahead of her skies by suggesting (before correcting herself) that McConnell was the “[f]ormer majority leader” facing “a challenge in his home state” from McGrath, who’s “blaming the long-time leader for the dysfunction on Capitol Hill.”

New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay joined the lovefest, comparing McGrath to far-left Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), saying she’s “a case that reminds me so much of” what Ocasio-Cortez did in beating Pelosi lieutenant Joe Crowley.

Gay conceded that “it’s going to be a tough race for her,” but otherwise pumped up the MSNBC audience (yes, all ten of them) with words about her “new kind of politics” (click “expand”): 

But what's so interesting to me is I've been reading the local coverage in — out of Kentucky this morning and, you know, it sounds to me like she's actually casting her campaign not as anti-Trump, but as actually trying to go after McConnell using the Trump playbook of, hey, listen, you know, my constituents, the people of Kentucky tried to elect Donald Trump to drain the swamp and he failed and Mitch McConnell is a part of that. So she's using the Trump playbook against McConnell and I think that is absolutely fascinating. She's talking about bread and butter, kitchen table issues, jobs, and I also think it will be interesting generationally to see since she's talking about student debt what comes out this campaign. She's really got her work cut out for her, but I think it's a new kind of politics that work. 

Mitchell then turned to Gay’s Times colleague Jeremy Peters by stating that “this is a whole new ball game.”

Peters followed Gay’s lead by conceding that McConnell will still “be a very, very strong candidate” but he’s vulnerable since “the Mitch McConnell who ran and won in 2014 is not the same Mitch McConnell who will be running for reelection.”

“You know, as a caveat here, he is still going to be a very, very strong candidate, but he embodies that swamp that Donald Trump ran against. He is also the least popular senator. He has the lowest approval ratings by far of any senator. That's a huge vulnerability,” Peters added, before concluding the segment with the observation that McConnell will owe any victory in 2020 to the President turning out his base, even though the two haven’t always seen eye-to-eye.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on July 9, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports
July 9, 2019
12:46 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Coming up, Louisville slugger. The Kentucky Democrat and former Marine pilot who announced this morning that she is challenging Senator Mitch McConnell for his seat. 

(....)

12:50 p.m. Eastern

MITCHELL: Former majority leader — excuse me — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's fight to hold the Senate in 2020 is going to now include a challenge in his home state. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath announcing this morning she is ready to take on McConnell, blaming the long-time leader for the dysfunction on Capitol Hill. 

AMY MCGRATH: Everything that's wrong in Washington had to start someplace. How did it come to this? That even within our own families, we can't talk each other about the leaders of our country anymore without anger and blame. Well, it started it with this man, who was elected a lifetime ago and who has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise. 

MITCHELL: Well, joining me now, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay and New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters. Both MSNBC contributors. Mara, she's taking on an institution, the strongest Majority Leader in anyone's memory. If she gets the nomination, what are her chances? 

MARA GAY: Well, first of all, this is a case that reminds me so much of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York that we had here. Nobody expected that she would beat long-time Congressman Joe Crowley and she did. Now, I’ll leave it to the local reporters on the ground in Kentucky to look at what her actual odds are, I think it's fair to say that she's, you know — it's going to be a tough race for her. He's — he’s really got a major advantage here. But what's so interesting to me is I've been reading the local coverage in — out of Kentucky this morning and, you know, it sounds to me like she's actually casting her campaign not as anti-Trump, but as actually trying to go after McConnell using the Trump playbook of, hey, listen, you know, my constituents, the people of Kentucky tried to elect Donald Trump to drain the swamp and he failed and Mitch McConnell is a part of that. So she's using the Trump playbook against McConnell and I think that is absolutely fascinating. She's talking about bread and butter, kitchen table issues, jobs, and I also think it will be interesting generationally to see since she's talking about student debt what comes out this campaign. She's really got her work cut out for her, but I think it's a new kind of politics that work. 

MITCHELL: And Jeremy, this is a whole new ball game. 

JEREMY PETERS: Yeah it absolutely is because the Mitch McConnell who ran and won in 2014 is not the same Mitch McConnell who will be running for reelection. He won by double digits when people thought he would be vulnerable in 2014. You know, as a caveat here, he is still going to be a very, very strong candidate, but he embodies that swamp that Donald Trump ran against. He is also the least popular senator. He has the lowest approval ratings by far of any senator. That's a huge vulnerability. He's also got to appreciate the irony here, that he is going to have to tether himself to Donald Trump in order to win by effectively saying, from what I'm hearing from Republicans on the ground, look, if it weren't for me, Donald Trump's agenda wouldn't be going through. Donald Trump's judges wouldn't be getting confirmed. So reelect me, I'm your best hope for preserving the Trump agenda. Trump and McConnell are not exactly on the same page on most things.

MITCHELL: Jeremy Peters, Mara Gay, thanks so much to both of you. 

NB Daily 2020 Congressional Congress Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Video Government & Press Andrea Mitchell Jeremy Peters Mitch McConnell Amy McGrath
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