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Even Mitch McConnell Refuses To Turn Egypt Riots To Partisan Advantage

Perhaps it's a testimony to just how tenuous and potentially dangerous the situation is in Egypt, but even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell--who has made ensuring President Obama only a single term his foremost priority--could not bring

Perhaps it's a testimony to just how tenuous and potentially dangerous the situation is in Egypt, but even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell--who has made ensuring President Obama only a single term his foremost priority--could not bring himself to wax partisan about the White House's approach to the Egyptian riots.

When lobbed a big, fat softball by David Gregory, perhaps hoping for a more political response, McConnell demurred and reiterated his support for the actions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

SEN. McCONNELL: Yeah, I, I don't have any criticism of President Obama or Secretary Clinton at this point. I mean, they know full well that we can't give the Egyptians advice about who their leadership is. That's beyond the reach of the United States. And I think we ought to speak as one voice during this crisis, and so I'm not prepared...

MR. GREGORY: What about, what about U.S. military aid, over a billion dollars, $1.3 billion? Is that on the table? Should that be withheld if things don't go the way we'd like it to go?

SEN. McCONNELL: Yeah, look, answering those kind of hypotheticals is not a good idea. We need to wait and see what emerges in Egypt.

While I applaud McConnell's restraint and desire to speak with a unified voice, I wouldn't get too used to it.

Transcripts below the fold

MR. GREGORY: Developing story here, so much to talk about. In terms of Egypt, what is your reaction to hearing Secretary Clinton this morning and the administration's stance?

SEN. McCONNELL: Well, I don't have much to add to what Secretary Clinton said. We, we all know Egypt has been an extraordinarily important ally of ours. The Suez Canal has been kept open for commerce. They have worked with Israel to prevent, to a large extent, arms from going into Gaza because the Gaza- Egyptian border's been a sensitive subject. And of course, we're grateful for the 30-year peace agreement with Israel. So they are an indispensable ally. And we hope that at the end of the day, when whatever changes are going to occur do occur, that we'll still have an important ally.

MR. GREGORY: But you've been pointed in your comments about Hosni Mubarak in the past. In 2004 you wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, and part of what you said is, "It's past time" for " President Mubarak" that he "demonstrated the courage and commitment to lead Egypt into a new era of freedom and prosperity. To do anything less will only strengthen the hands of extremists." He has failed in that effort, hasn't he, to democratize.

SEN. McCONNELL: Well, I -- like president -- like Secretary Clinton, a lot of the rest of us, I've said that to President Mubarak over the years, the last time in, in 2009. I was there, and we had a chance to talk about this issue. As Secretary Clinton said, it's been on the agenda for a long time. And a lot of us felt that had he moved on some of these issues, we'd have had a much smoother transition than we're witnessing now.

MR. GREGORY: Can he stay in power?

SEN. McCONNELL: Look, it's not up to us to, you know, to give the Egyptians advice about this. You know, hopefully this transition will occur relatively peacefully. And at the end of it all, I hope we still have an important ally in the Middle East.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

SEN. McCONNELL: Yeah, I, I don't have any criticism of President Obama or Secretary Clinton at this point. I mean, they know full well that we can't give the Egyptians advice about who their leadership is. That's beyond the reach of the United States. And I think we ought to speak as one voice during this crisis, and so I'm not prepared...

MR. GREGORY: What about, what about U.S. military aid, over a billion dollars, $1.3 billion? Is that on the table? Should that be withheld if things don't go the way we'd like it to go?

SEN. McCONNELL: Yeah, look, answering those kind of hypotheticals is not a good idea. We need to wait and see what emerges in Egypt.

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