McConnell campaign milks Syria debate as fundraising cash-cow

Updated
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell speaks at the Hart County Courthouse in Munfordville, Kentucky, Aug. 20, 2013.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell speaks at the Hart County Courthouse in Munfordville, Kentucky, Aug. 20, 2013.
Erik Schelzig/AP

After becoming the last top congressional leader to weigh in on a potential U.S. military intervention in Syria, and the first to oppose it, Mitch McConnell is now fundraising off his position.

In a campaign email sent Tuesday, mere hours after the Kentucky Republican declared his opposition on the Senate floor, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton wrote to supporters praising the “well reasoned and thorough” argument McConnell made.

“It’s clear that he has dedicated himself to understanding the Syrian situation inside and out, and that he is fighting for Kentucky on the national, and international, stage,” Benton wrote.

McConnell’s top campaign aide insisted the Senate leader “does not politicize issues of national security.” But in the close of the email, Benton quickly calls for money from McConnell’s supporters to keep him in the Senate.

“Today was a ringing example of why we need to keep Mitch fighting for us in the United States Senate. Anything that you can contribute will go a long way towards our goal,” the letter concludes.

McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, criticized the tone and timing of the email through her campaign spokeswoman, accusing the Senate majority leader of “exploiting” the debate.

“Senator McConnell’s fundraising email is outrageous and shameful,” spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement. “It is politics at its worst. Senator McConnell is exploiting the tragedy in Syria for his own political gain. It took him weeks to tell Kentuckians where he stood, yet only seconds to fundraise off of this humanitarian crisis.”

McConnell’s not the first Republican to fundraise off opposition to military action in Syria. New York Rep. Michael Grimm asked for donations in a similar email sent last week.

McConnell faces a primary challenge in his 2014 re-election bid, which some say has driven him to the right on some issues. He’s leading his challenger, Matt Bevin, by 47% according to the most recent polling.

McConnell campaign milks Syria debate as fundraising cash-cow

Updated