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Mitch McConnell


Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 1985
Serving with Jim Bunning
Preceded by Walter Huddleston

Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 2007
Deputy Trent Lott (2007)
Jon Kyl (2007–)
Preceded by Harry Reid

In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Leader Bill Frist
Preceded by Harry Reid
Succeeded by Richard Durbin

In office
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by John Warner
Succeeded by Christopher Dodd
In office
January 20 – June 6, 2001
Preceded by Christopher Dodd
Succeeded by Christopher Dodd

In office
January 4, 1995 – January 7, 1997
Preceded by Richard Bryan
Succeeded by Robert C. Smith

Born February 20, 1942 (1942-02-20) (age 68)
Sheffield, Alabama
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sherrill Redmon (div.)
Elaine Chao
Residence Louisville, Kentucky
Alma mater University of Louisville, University of Kentucky
Profession Lawyer
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1967
Unit Reserves

Addison Mitchell "Mitch" McConnell, Jr. (born February 20, 1942) is the senior United States Senator from Kentucky. He was chosen by his Republican colleagues as the Minority Leader in November 2006, making him the top-ranking Republican in the 110th Congress, which convened January 3, 2007.[1] He is an advocate of conservative principles, receiving a perfect score from the American Conservative Union in 2006.[2] McConnell won re-election in 2008 against Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford.

Contents

Early life and education

McConnell was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama to Julia (née Shockley) and Addison Mitchell McConnell.[3] His official U.S. Senate Web site biography omits his Alabama birthplace, stating that he was "Born on February 20, 1942, and raised in south Louisville".[4] McConnell was raised in southern Louisville, Kentucky, where he attended the duPont Manual High School, and in 1964 he graduated with honors from the University of Louisville. He was student body president and a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He graduated in 1967 from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was elected the president of the Student Bar Association.

Military discharge during Vietnam

McConnell became a member of the 100th Training Unit, U.S. Army Reserve, in Louisville, Kentucky during his final semester of law school, and he reported for his six months of active service, primarily for training, in July 1967. After induction at Fort Knox, Kentucky, McConnell was released early from his active-duty military service in August 1967.[5] John Cooper, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky (for whom McConnell had interned) wrote a letter in August 1967 to the commanding general at Fort Knox, asking when McConnell would be "cleared" from active duty so as to attend New York University. The registrar's office at NYU has no record of McConnell applying or registering for classes. According to a former campaign manager, McConnell received a medical discharge for optic neuritis (a symptom of multiple sclerosis). McConnell has declined to be interviewed regarding this issue, or to release medical records.[6]

In 1992, McConnell teamed up with the University of Louisville to create the McConnell Center.

Career prior to the Senate

In March 1967, during his final semester of law school, McConnell gained experience on Capitol Hill as an intern under Senator John Sherman Cooper, later as an assistant to Senator Marlow Cook, and was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Gerald R. Ford. From 1978 until his election to the Senate, he was the Jefferson County Judge/Executive, the top political office in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville.

U.S. Senate

Initial election and subsequent re-elections

In 1984, McConnell ran for the U.S. Senate against two-term Democratic incumbent Walter "Dee" Huddleston. The election race wasn't decided until the last returns came in, and McConnell won by a thin margin — less than one-half of a percentage point. McConnell was the only Republican Senate challenger to win that year, despite Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in the presidential election. Part of McConnell's success came from a series of television campaign spots called "Where's Dee", which featured a group of bloodhounds trying to find Huddleston, implying that Huddleston's attendance record in the Senate was less than stellar. It is likely that he was helped by Ronald Reagan's 21-point win in Kentucky that year. His campaign bumper stickers and television ads asked voters to "Switch to Mitch".

In 1990, McConnell faced a tough reelection contest against former Louisville mayor Harvey I. Sloane, winning by 4.5 points. He soundly defeated Steve Beshear in 1996, even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state. In keeping with a tradition of humorous and effective television ads in his campaigns, McConnell's campaign ran television ads in 1996 that warned voters to not "Get Besheared" and included images of sheep being sheared. In 2002, he was reelected with the largest majority by a Republican candidate in Kentucky history.

In 2008, McConnell defeated Democratic opponent Bruce Lunsford by 5.8%, 100,000 votes.

Republican leadership

McConnell was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles; Republicans maintained control of the Senate in both. McConnell was first elected as Majority Whip in the 108th Congress and unanimously re-elected by Republicans in the Senate on November 17, 2004. Sen. Bill Frist, the Majority Leader, did not seek re-election in the 2006 elections. After Republicans lost control of the Senate in November 2006, they elected McConnell to replace Frist as Republican Leader.

Committees

Political actions and positions

McConnell is a staunch conservative and a shrewd parliamentary tactician.[7] He is widely considered a "kingmaker" in Kentucky Republican politics.[8]

Although he is an ardent conservative, he has distanced himself from the majority in his party by opposing the Flag Desecration Amendment, arguing against modifying the United States Constitution to address "every political and social ill" the nation faces. He has, however, sponsored legislation that would criminalize flag burning but without a constitutional amendment.[9]

McConnell is also well known for his opposition to campaign finance regulation on First Amendment grounds. He argues that regulations reduce participation in political campaigns and protect incumbents from competition.[10] He spearheaded the movement against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (known since 1995 as the "McCain–Feingold bill" and from 1989–1994 as the "Boren–Mitchell bill"), calling it "neither fair, nor balanced, nor constitutional."[11] His opposition to the bill culminated in the 2003 Supreme Court case McConnell v. Federal Election Commission and the 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In August 2007 McConnell introduced the Protect America Act of 2007, which allowed the National Security Agency to monitor telephone and electronic communications of suspected terrorists inside and outside the United States without obtaining a warrant.

McConnell remains one of the strongest supporters of the Iraq War, which he considers a central part of the War on Terrorism. He holds the view that the violence in Iraq is perpetrated primarily by al-Qaeda and other international jihadists who would otherwise be engaged in terrorist actions within the United States. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on January 10, 2007 (after President Bush's announcement of an escalation in troop levels in Iraq), McConnell claimed that the war in Iraq was a success because it had prevented terrorist attacks in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks. He warned that if the United States withdrew from Iraq, "the terrorists would come after us where we live."

In 1996, Senator McConnell demanded that President Clinton allow White House aides to testify under oath. On April 1, 2007, Chris Wallace claimed that McConnell's stance on Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testifying under oath in relation to the Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy was contradictory. Wallace asked, "In 1996, you were saying those White House aides should testify in open hearing. These were White House aides of Bill Clinton, in open hearing under oath. Why shouldn't the same rules apply for the Bush White House and people like Karl Rove?" McConnell replied, "And what I’m telling you is the president's going to make that decision."

Senator McConnell was the writer of the Gas Price Reduction Act. The GPRA calls for more offshore and domestic oil exploration, to try to curb rising gas prices.

On April 21, 2009, McConnell delivered a speech to the Senate criticizing United States President Barack Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.[12][13] During the speech, he suggested that Obama's closure plans might result in the release of "murderers" into the U.S. He also claimed that the Department of Defense had identified 18 former Guantanamo prisoners who allegedly returned to battle, whom he called "recidivists", and he predicted that the closure of the camp would result in additional former captives returning to the battlefield.

War in Iraq

McConnell has been an advocate of the War in Iraq and was a supporter of President George W. Bush and his policies.

However, regarding the failure of the Iraqi government to make reforms, McConnell said the following on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: "The Iraqi government is a huge disappointment. Republicans overwhelmingly feel disappointed about the Iraqi government. I read just this week that a significant number of the Iraqi parliament want to vote to ask us to leave. I want to assure you, Wolf, if they vote to ask us to leave, we'll be glad to comply with their request."[14]

On the June 17, 2007, edition of CBS News' Face the Nation, McConnell said, "Most members of my conference in the Senate believe [that September will be] the critical point to evaluate where we are ... I think everybody anticipates that there's going to be a new strategy in the fall. I find growing support in the Senate among Republicans, and for that matter, some Democrats as well, for the recommendations of the [Baker-Hamilton] Iraq Study Group".[15][16]

On July 9, 2007, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky at Fort Campbell, speaking to a contingent of troops about to ship out for a 15-month deployment to Iraq, McConnell said, "The majority of the public has decided the Iraq effort is not worth it," he said. "That puts a lot of pressure on Congress to act because public opinion in a democracy is not irrelevant."[17][18]

Allegations of corruption

In its 2009 report, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named McConnell one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress, stating that "Sen. McConnell's ethics issues stem primarily from (1) earmarks he inserted into legislation for clients of his former chief of staff in exchange for campaign contributions and (2) the misuse of his nonprofit McConnell Center for Political Leadership at the University of Louisville."[19] McConnell was also included in the group's report in 2007 and 2008.[19]

Electoral history

Elections are shown with a map depicting county-by-county information. McConnell is always shown in red.

Year % McConnell Opponent Party affiliation % of vote Map color County-by-county map
2008 52.9% Bruce Lunsford Democrat 47.1%   KY-USA 2008 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
2002 64.7% Lois Combs Weinberg Democrat 35.3%   KY-USA 2002 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
1996 55.5% Steve Beshear Democrat 42.8%   KY-USA 1996 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
Dennis L Lacy Libertarian 0.7% n/a
Patricia Jo Metten Natural Law 0.6% n/a
Mac McElroy U.S. Taxpayers 0.4% n/a
1990 52.2% Harvey I. Sloane Democrat 47.8%   KY-USA 1990 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
1984 49.9% Walter Huddleston (incumbent) Democrat 49.5%   KY-USA 1984 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
Dave Welters Socialist Workers 0.6% n/a

Personal life

McConnell is a member of the Baptist Church. His first wife was Sherrill Redmon,[20] who is now director of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Archives at Smith College;[21] later divorced, they have three daughters, Elly, Claire, and Porter.[22] His second wife, whom he married in 1993, is Elaine Chao, the former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush.

References

  1. ^ "National Environmental Scorecard". League of conservation voters. 2007. http://lcv.org/scorecard/2007.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  2. ^ ACU Releases 2005 Congressional Ratings
  3. ^ McConnell Ancestry
  4. ^ Senator Mitch McConnell - Biography
  5. ^ Mitch McConnell at Political Base
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Meet the New Boss - Zachary Roth & Cliff Schecter
  8. ^ Blackford, Linda (2006-11-06). "Supporters' hopes are high McConnell will lead Senate". Lexington Herald Leader. http://moreresults.factiva.com/results/index/index.aspx?ref=LXHL000020061109e2b80000y. 
  9. ^ Bash, Dana (2000-03-29). "Flag desecration amendment fails in Senate". CNN. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/03/29/flag.burn/index.html. 
  10. ^ Zachary Roth and Cliff Schecter"Meet the New Boss", Washington Monthly, October 2006
  11. ^ Speech to the House Appropriations Committee by Mitch McConnnell, May 3, 2001, on campaign finance reform
  12. ^ Mitch McConnell (2009-04-21). "Republican Leader McConnell's April 21, 2009 floor speech". United States Senate. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. http://www.webcitation.org/5gEcChSSW. 
  13. ^ Carol Rosenberg (2009-04-21). "GOP leader McConnell wants more scrutiny of prison closing costs". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. http://www.webcitation.org/5gEcXGCE3. 
  14. ^ CNN Political Ticker
  15. ^ Politics1 Blog
  16. ^ Face the Nation 2007-06-17
  17. ^ 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 9
  18. ^ Sargent, Greg. "McConnell: "Public Opinion In A Democracy Is Not Irrelevant" | TPMCafe". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20070711121324/http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/jul/09/mcconnell_public_opinion_is_not_irrelevant_in_a_democracy. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  19. ^ a b http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/summaries/mcconnell.php
  20. ^ John E. Kleber, Kentucky Bicentennial Commission, Thomas Dionsius Clark, and Lowell H. Harrison, "The Kentucky Encyclopedia", University Press of Kentucky, 1992, page 592
  21. ^ About the Sophia Smith Collection, Women's History Manuscripts
  22. ^ Office of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) > Biography

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Walter Huddleston
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
January 3, 1985 – present
Served alongside: Wendell H. Ford, Jim Bunning
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Bryan
D-Nevada
Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee
1995 – 1997
Succeeded by
Robert C. Smith
R-New Hampshire
Preceded by
John Warner
R-Virginia
Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee
1999 – 2001
Succeeded by
Chris Dodd
D-Connecticut
Preceded by
Harry Reid
D-Nevada
United States Senate Majority Whip
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Succeeded by
Dick Durbin
D-Illinois
Preceded by
Harry Reid
D-Nevada
United States Senate Minority Leader
January 4, 2007 - present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Louis Guenthner
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Kentucky
(Class 2)

1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
Al D'Amato
New York
Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
1997 – 2001
Succeeded by
Bill Frist
Tennessee
Preceded by
Don Nickles
Oklahoma
Senate Republican Whip
2003 – 2007
Succeeded by
Trent Lott
Mississippi
Preceded by
Bill Frist
Tennessee
Senate Republican Leader
2007 – present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Tom Harkin
(D-Iowa)
United States Senators by seniority
15th
Succeeded by
Jay Rockefeller
(D-West Virginia)

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Addison Mitchell "Mitch" McConnell, Jr. (born February 20, 1942) is a Republican United States Senator from Kentucky.

Sourced

  • I think the testimony obviously ought to be sworn testimony. And we ought to go all the way into this and take as much time as we can to reassure the American people that this sort of thing’s not going to happen again in the future.
  • With regard to White House officials, it will be up to the President to decide frankly whether and when and under what circumstances members of his [own White House staff] testify.
  • There was no involvement whatsoever.
    • on WHAS-11, denying his office's spreading lies to the media about Graeme Logan, a brain-damaged recipient of S-CHIP funds, and his family, despite recovery of subject email (see below); October 19, 2007; Countdown
  • Bloggers have done a little digging and turned up that the Dad owns his own business (and the building it's in), seems to have some commercial rental income and Graeme and a sister go to a private school that, according to its website, costs about $20k a year -- for each kid.
    • e-mail containing false and personal information, from Mitch McConnell aide to the media, swiftboating brain-damaged 12-year-old Graeme Logan, to protect Bush's effective reduction of S-CHIP program by hundreds of thousands of children; Countdown, October 16, 2007
  • Nobody is happy about losing lives but, remember, these are not draftees. These are full-time professional soldiers.
    • December 7, 2007 [1]

Quotes About McConnell

  • Republicans like Kentucky's Mitch McConnell were quick to defend Rice with trivia. (MCCONNELL): Her parents aptly named her Condoleezza, after the Italian musical term "con colcezza," which is a direction to play "with sweetness". (STEWART): Her last name is a starchy side dish, often served with beans. I vote 'yes'!
    • Jon Stewart, on McConnell's odd defense of Rice's nomination to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State; The Daily Show; January 26, 2005; [2] [3]
  • In the Senate yesterday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of breaking their promise to confirm a number of presidential judicial nominations. To punish the Dems, McConnell used Senate rules to waste virtually the whole day having the Senate clerk read the bill under consideration, a global warming bill, allowed -- all 491 pages of it. Why? A Republican lobbyist leaked an internal GOP strategy memo to the Democrats (quote): "The GOP very much wants to have this fight, engage in it for a prolonged period, and then make it as difficult as possible to move off the bill." Why? (quote) "The focus is much more on making political points than in amending the bill, changing the baseline text for any future debate, or effecting policy." Making not policy but political points the goal of Mr. Bush's party: and you thought they weren't good at anything.
    • MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, during his daily Bush scandal segment; June 5, 2008; [4]

External links

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