As a growing number of Americans disapprove of the federal government shutdown, a "hot mic" conversation Wednesday night caught Kentucky Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul discussing how the GOP can avoid blame.
Speaking to McConnell in the midst of Capitol Hill interviews, Paul says if Republicans were to pivot from de-funding President Obama's health care law to seeking an overall "compromise" the GOP will "win this."
McConnell can be heard concurring with Paul that it is bad politics for Democrats to say they won't negotiate, but a recent CBS News survey shows most Americans are still blaming the GOP for the shutdown.
It is certainly a raw politics moment for Kentucky's two U.S. senators, who have forged an alliance in recent years.
The campaign to elect U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is pouncing on the conversation, calling it a cynical approach in the face of the shutdown's real world impact.
"As Kentuckians continue to suffer at the hands of Washington’s dysfunctional government shutdown, Mitch McConnell is unsurprisingly playing dirty political games," says Grimes senior adviser Jonathan Hurst. " Just last night—after grandstanding on TV following an 'unproductive' meeting at the White House–he was caught on an open mic discussing what poll-tested rhetoric to use to save the one job he cares about: his own. Instead of proposing a credible solution to the devastating shutdown, McConnell is more worried about his floundering re-election campaign."
The CBS News poll found Republicans are evenly divided over the shutdown with 48 percent supporting it and 49 percent against. Among self-identified Tea Party supporters there is 57 percent approval of the shutdown, but high disapproval among Democrats and independents.
"Nobody wants this shutdown," McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. "Democrats say they don’t want it. Republicans certainly don’t want it. So we all agree on that much. The question at this point is how do we resolve the issues that truly divide us?"