The candid, behind-the-scenes memoir of the of the Senate Majority Leader and GOP veteran.
In October 1984, a hard-charging Kentucky politician waited excitedly for President Ronald Reagan to arrive at a presidential rally in Louisville. In the midst of a tough Senate campaign against an incumbent Democrat, the young Republican hoped Reagan’s endorsement would give a much-needed boost to his insurgent campaign. He even had a camera crew ready to capture the president’s words for a TV commercial he planned to air during the campaign’s final stretch. Alas, when Reagan finally stepped to the microphone, he smiled for the crowd and declared: “I’m happy to be here with my good friend, Mitch O’Donnell.”
That was hardly Mitch McConnell’s first setback, and far from his last. He swallowed hard, put his head down, and kept going. Four weeks later, in the biggest upset of the year, his dream of being a US senator came true—by a margin of about one vote per precinct. By persevering, he’d be the only Republican in the country to beat an incumbent Democratic US senator.
McConnell learned patience and fortitude during his post–World War II youth in Alabama. His mother helped him beat polio by leading him through long, aching exercises every day for two years. His father taught him the importance of standing up to bullies, even if it meant taking the occasional punch. It turned out to be the perfect childhood for a future Senate majority leader. “In the line of work I would choose, compromise is key, but I’d come to find that certain times required me to invoke the fighting spirit both of my parents instilled in me.”
For more than three decades, McConnell has worked steadily to advance conservative values, including limited government, individual liberty, fiscal prudence, and a strong national defense. But he has always cared much more about moving the ball forward than about who gets the credit.
Now McConnell reveals what he really thinks about the rivalry between the Senate and the House; the players and the stakes involved when a group of political opportunists tried to hijack the Tea Party movement; and key figures such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Harry Reid. He explains the real causes of the chronic gridlock that has so many voters enraged, his ongoing efforts to restore the US Senate’s indispensable dual role as a brake on excess and a tool for national consensus, and what ordinary citizens have a right to expect from Washington.
MITCH McCONNELL is the longest-serving US Senate Republican leader and longest-serving senator from Kentucky. He has represented the Commonwealth in the upper chamber since January 1985 and has been Senate majority leader since January 2015. Prior to that, he was leader of the Senate Republican minority for nearly a decade. Senator McConnell has been described by Frank Luntz as having “had a bigger impact on the United States Senate than any senator in my lifetime” and by one journalist as being “arguably the most influential Senate majority leader since Lyndon Johnson.” Twice he has been selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People. He has three daughters and is married to Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation.