Jesse Benton, the former Ron Paul aide who is now running Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign, said in a recorded phone conversation that he is “holding his nose” to work for McConnell because it will help Senator Rand Paul in a 2016 presidential bid.
“Between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ’16. So that’s my long vision,” Benton told Dennis Fusaro, another former Ron Paul aide.
The statement is remarkable both because Benton reveals disdain for his boss, McConnell, and hints at a previously unknown arrangement between McConnell and Paul World in which Benton’s help to McConnell could result in help from McConnell for Rand Paul’s presidential bid in 2016.
The campaigns and congressional offices of McConnell and Rand Paul did not answer questions from National Review Online about such an agreement, but Benton said in a written statement that working for McConnell is “one of the great honors of my life.” Benton’s statement was sent by Allison Moore, a McConnell-campaign staffer.
“It is truly sick that someone would record a private phone conversation I had out of kindness and use it to try to hurt me. I believe in Senator McConnell and am 100 percent committed to his re-election. Being selected to lead his campaign is one of the great honors of my life and I look forward to victory in November of 2014,” Benton said.
Reached by phone Thursday, Fusaro said he recorded the phone conversation with Benton and released it to EconomicPolicyJournal.com, where it was first published. On the call, Fusaro confronted Benton over an alleged payoff the Paul campaign made to Kent Sorenson, an Iowa state senator, in return for Sorenson’s influential endorsement in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses in 2012.
Benton said he didn’t know what Fusaro was talking about and asked Fusaro to mail him evidence. Fusaro told National Review Online he never actually mailed the evidence because he didn’t trust Benton.
NRO’s Katrina Trinko recently profiled Benton.