Jesse Benton Answers Why He Went to McConnellSubmitted by LibertyChat on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 15:05
From: Grace Wyler of Business Insider
BI: Senator McConnell isn’t up for re-election for another two years, and he doesn’t even have a Democratic opponent yet. Why take this position now? Do you anticipate a primary challenge?
Jesse Benton: No, we’re not anticipating a primary challenge. But we expect him to be the biggest target for the national Democrats. It’s sort of become a right of passage that the Senate leadership becomes a huge target. We saw it with [former South Dakota Sen.] Tom Daschle, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, and so on and so forth. We think that Sen. McConnell is going to have a big target on his back, but we’re going to be ready. We’re going to run a heckuva campaign.
BI: You ran Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign in Kentucky in 2010, and Sen. McConnell endorsed his primary opponent. What’s changed since then?
Benton: What changed was a friendship that we cultivated, both Rand and Senator McConnell and our teams cultivated in the  general election.
I’ll tell you a story about that: It was right after Rand’s primary win, and the buzzards were circling. The national Democrats were really cranking up their attack machine, the MSNBCs of the world were really circling, and we were facing a real tough general election. Sen. McConnell held a Unity Rally and he made it very clear that any partisan bickering from the primary was going to be left in the past. He really, really helped us mend and soothe hurt feelings from the primary. He just absolutely was a champion for us.
Rand has really cultivated a great friendship with him up on the hill, and I’ve cultivated a friendship with him and with some of his staff. I’ve really gotten to see how the man ticks. I’ve really grown to have quite a bit of admiration for him. So when they asked me if I was interested, it was unexpected, but it was very welcome.
BI: You told me a few months ago that you are both an operative and an activist. How does the Ron Paul activist side of you reconcile working for someone who has supported a lot of legislation that the Liberty Movement has opposed?
Benton: I look at Sen. McConnell as someone who fills a very different role than some of the other people that I have worked for. Sen. McConnell has to build consensus and bring people together. Sen. McConnell has a very, very difficult job up in Washington. If he’s the Leader, he’s going to have to pass a budget next year and he’s going to have to bring together Rand Paul on one side, and Susan on the other. That’s a tremendously difficult job and it requires a tremendous amount of statesmanship and leadership. Sen. McConnell is the kind of person who can bring people together, even when they disagree on some issues, find common ground and work for real solutions.