WASHINGTON – In between on-camera news interviews Wednesday night, top Kentucky lawmakers Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell were caught on hot microphones discussing Republican strategy amid a partial government shutdown.
The rare inside look into the GOP’s messaging approach comes on day three of the dispute in Washington where President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders yielded no signs of progress.
During the brief exchange, Paul walked over to McConnell who was about to go on camera for his own interview. McConnell told Paul that he was “all wired up here” before the discussion.
“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 them to say that over and over again,” Paul was heard saying.
“Yeah I do too, and I just came back from a two-hour meeting with them. And that was basically the same view privately as it was publically,” McConnell said back.
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner made it clear that curbing the Affordable Care Act remains part of the price in coming up with a resolution to the shutdown.
Paul’s final words to McConnell, as caught by Kentucky TV station WPSD, didn’t do much to dispel the impression that the dispute could persist into mid-October and become entangled with the more consequential debt-ceiling debate.
“I think if we keep saying, ‘We wanted to defund it. We fought for that, but now we’re willing to compromise on this,’ Paul said. “I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re going to win this I think.”