FRANKFORT, Ky. — Campaign aides to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed using actress Ashley Judd’s past bouts with depression against her if she had decided to challenge him in his re-election bid next year, according to a secret recording posted by a magazine.
Mother Jones released a recording Tuesday along with an article about a private meeting in which the aides discussed opposition research into potential Democratic challengers. Aides talked and laughed on the recording about Judd’s political positions, religious beliefs and past bouts of depression.
The FBI is looking into how the recording was made after the McConnell campaign accused opponents of engaging in “Watergate-era tactics.” The magazine reported that the recording was provided last week by a source who requested anonymity.
“She’s clearly — this sounds extreme — but she is emotionally unbalanced,” a McConnell aide said of Judd during a February meeting at the Louisville campaign headquarters. “I mean it’s been documented ... she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.”
Judd spokeswoman Cara Tripicchio criticized the McConnell campaign for considering making depression a campaign issue.
“This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington D.C.,” Tripicchio said in a statement. “We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter.”
McConnell was asked several times at a news conference Tuesday about the propriety of attacking Judd over depression. He did not directly answer, but repeatedly brought up an incident last month, when Progress Kentucky tweeted an insensitive remark about his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
“As you know, my wife’s ethnicity was attacked by a left-wing group in Kentucky and apparently they also bugged my headquarters,” he said. “So I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in Kentucky.”
Read more in Wednesday’s Arizona Daily Star or StarNet.