5 things you might not have known about Mitch McConnell

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • McConnell wrote his thesis on “The Great Compromiser”
  • His real name’s not Mitch
  • He once sought the support of Democratic-leaning groups like major unions
  • Obama heads to Phoenix to talk housing
  • Immigration action in the House could come next week

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Mitch McConnell: To go along with our profile of new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, this morning we’d like to highlight five interesting facts about the senator from Kentucky.

1. He is an avid student of history, especially the history of the Senate and its leaders. McConnell wrote his college thesis on the Compromise of 1850, which the great Kentucky Senator Henry Clay brokered in an attempt to avoid open conflict over slavery and broker peace between free and slave states.

2. His given first name is not Mitch. It is Addison Mitchell McConnell, Junior.

3. McConnell suffered from polio as a child, getting treatment in Warm Springs, Georgia, made famous by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Al Cross, a longtime Kentucky journalist who directs the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, believes that overcoming the disease helped McConnell develop the determination and drive he has shown throughout his political career.

4. Early in his political career, some traditional liberal groups worked with and praised McConnell, including the AFL-CIO and some local abortion rights groups.

5. McConnell believes political work should be focused and professional, conducted like a top-notch business, according to the University of Kentucky’s Al Cross. The former reporter told NewsHour that years ago McConnell’s home answering machine said, “If this is about business, please call my office.”

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1790, President George Washington delivered what would later become known as the State of the Union for the first time. Which president first dubbed it the “State of the Union”? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Yareli (@_queenyf) for guessing Wednesday’s trivia: Fillmore is one of the few presidents who was never elected to the office. Who were the others? The answer: Tyler, Arthur, Andrew Johnson and Ford.


  • At 12:25 p.m. President Obama will deliver remarks at Central High School in Phoenix, Ariz. on the housing sector. The stop is part of a three-day cross country trip to talk about ways to strengthen the economy.
  • Speaker John Boehner might show forgiveness to his dissenters, but his supporters think that’s the wrong call.
  • House Republicans are preparing their legislative attacks on the president’s executive action on immigration for next week. They’re hoping to defund his actions, while securing renewed funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., lead sponsors of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, are hashing out ways to get it through Congress and override a looming presidential veto.
  • While the House will again vote Thursday on extending the workweek to 40 hours, the measure still has a way to go in the Senate and faces a presidential veto threat.
  • Manchin’s willingness to cut a deal could make him the go-to Democrat for the new GOP majority. But “I probably won’t be [there for my GOP colleagues],” he told Roll Call, if they’re looking for politicized posturing ahead of 2016.
  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin thinks it’s about time to raise the gas tax, which has not changed since 1993, and the new Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chair Sen. Jim Inhofe is not ruling it out.
  • They may have gotten stomped in last fall’s midterm elections, but Senate Democrats say they will not stand idly by while they’re in the minority.
  • Mitt Romney gathered for a private dinner with some members of his 2012 team Wednesday night in California after a speech he made at Stanford. But one veteran Romney campaign strategist tamped down any speculation for what it could mean for 2016, telling Morning Line not to read too much into a “‘meeting’ with friends who all have California addresses.”
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 2013 re-election campaign has been subpoenaed to investigate allegations that his administration cancelled meetings with the mayor of Jersey City after he didn’t endorse the governor.
  • Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is counting on the state legislature to re-elect him Thursday after he failed to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote in November.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio says Florida should keep its gay marriage ban, after same-sex marriages began on Tuesday in the Sunshine State.
  • The House GOP is not giving up their fight to sue President Obama; they recently extended the contract of the lawyer handling their lawsuit.
  • In a GOP campaign for 2016, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush represent an older breed of Republican whose earlier moderations will be challenged. “Now, deviations from orthodoxy on education, health care, immigration and the environment that some Republicans flirted with or embraced during George W. Bush’s presidency are as out of vogue on the right as flip phones,” writes Jonathan Martin.
  • It’s never too early to try to net 30 seats in the House. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is beginning recruitment for 2016 candidates this week.
  • Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp won’t be running for the Senate next go-round. The final call came from his wife.
  • Arizona could soon finally be on daylight savings time, just like the rest of us.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

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