In his first public comments on the subject, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likened the secret recording of one of his campaign’s strategy sessions to the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
“Last week they were attacking my wife’s ethnicity and apparently also bugging my headquarters, much like Nixon and Watergate,” said McConnell in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “That’s what the political left does these days.”
The Kentucky Republican's response echoed statements his campaign had released Tuesday morning in response to a Mother Jones report that published the recorded conversation at his campaign office.
(See also in Roll Call: McConnell Fundraises Off Secret Recording)
McConnell's campaign is working with the FBI to investigate the source of the recording, which was taken at his Louisville, Ky., campaign headquarters in February.
(See also in Roll Call: McConnell Campaign Notified FBI About Secret Recording)
Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran called for the Democratic Party and its aligned organizations to state publicly that they had no involvement and that party leaders should join him in condemning the act.
And like McConnell, Moran made the connection between this event and the disparaging comments made about McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, by Progress Kentucky, a liberal group in the state. That was also the basis for McConnell's first six-figure television ad buy, which featured Chao speaking to the camera.
(See also in Roll Call: McConnell Campaign Slams Liberal Groups' Tweet About His Wife)
"In Kentucky, a Democrat super PAC first sunk so low as to make racist attacks against Sen. McConnell's wife, and now there is another FBI investigation into leaked tapes and bugging," Moran said. "This 'anything to win: laws and rules be damned' mentality has to stop. I hope that Leaders Reid and Schumer will join me in condemning these tactics."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded briefly after McConnell's news conference.
"I've read some cursory reports of that. Other than that I don't know anything," Reid said. "I know I didn't have anything to do with it."
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.