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Rumor Check: Did Mitch McConnell Say He Wants to Punch Tea Party 'Bullies' in the Nose?


And he attacked Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz?

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Image source: )

The short answer: No.

But let's break this down.

Breitbart News reported Friday morning that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a conference call with campaign donors that the Tea Party movement is “nothing but a bunch of bullies” that he plans to “punch … in the nose.”

“McConnell said the Tea Party was ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies,’” an anonymous source who was supposedly on the call, which was organized by the American Crossroads super PAC, told Breitbart News. “And he said ‘you know how you deal with schoolyard bullies? You punch them in the nose and that’s what we’re going to do.’”

The report also claimed the Kentucky Republican said Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) were “problematic” for the Republican Party.

Image source: screen grab.

Republican strategist Karl Rove was on the call and “talked in a slightly gentler … more diplomatic way,” Breitbart’s unnamed source added.

“But the message was pretty well the same: That if we’re going to save this thing, we have to back real Republicans,” the anonymous source said.

Breitbart News was unable to obtain a copy of the conference call, meaning the entire report revolves around the hearsay of the unnamed "donor."

The Washington Examiner, however, claims it has obtained audio of the conference call, which cannot be released due to the private nature of the topics discussed, and what they heard contradicts the Breitbart News report.

“McConnell's comments about dealing with ‘schoolyard bullies’ by punching them in the nose…were accurate but were explicitly directed at the Senate Conservatives Fund, not the Tea Party or a specific conservative senator,” the Washington Examiner reported.

McConnell dinging the SCF should come as a surprise to no one. The SCF has relentlessly targeted the senator's reelection campaign and he was merely reassuring supporters he has opposition under control.

Lastly, according to the Washington Examiner, at no point during the 27-minute call did Sen. McConnell specifically criticize Sens. Lee and Cruz.

“McConnell additionally criticized the failed fight to defund Obamacare, which led to a government shutdown, a position consistent with his public remarks criticizing the shutdown strategy,” the report adds.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio, for his part, flatly denied the Breitbart News report, saying that the call covered the 16-day government shutdown and the SCF attacks on McConnell only briefly.

“Your source is ascribing things to the call that simply were never said,” Collegio told Breitbart. “There was no ‘anti-tea party donor call.’ There was a call, and there was some discussion about the government shutdown and the Senate Conservatives Fund (note this was one day after SCF launched a dishonest ad about McConnell), but nothing about the Tea Party or Sens. Cruz or Lee.”

Breitbart News had yet to respond to the Washington Examiner’s report as of Friday evening.


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter


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