Hot Mic Catches McConnell and Paul Working out the Best Shutdown Messaging

The reporters at WPSD Local 6 in Kentucky have taught Rand Paul a valuable lesson: When Mitch McConnell says “I’m all wired up,” don’t go next to him and talk about the next PR moves in the shutdown fight.

PAUL: I just did CNN, and I just go over and over again: “We’re willing to compromise! We’re willing to negotiate!” I don’t think they poll tested “we won’t negotiate.” I think it’s awful for [Democrats] to say that over and over again.

MCCONNELL: Yeah, I do too and I, and I just came back from that two hour meeting with them and that, and that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly.

PAUL: I think if we keep saying, “We wanted to defund it. We fought for that and that we’re willing to compromise on this,” I think they can’t, we’re gonna, I think… well, I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re gonna win this, I think.

It’s not altogether different from what Paul’s been saying when he knows a mic is on—he’s been pushing for a compromise that uses regular order to delay Obamacare for months. Actually, it’s not even the most unhelpful thing a Republican has said about the shutdown this week. Take it away, Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman:

We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.

A viewer with basic powers of observation might notice that the focus is on winning the optics and narrative of the shutdown, and getting something, without a truly clear idea of the something.