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Liberals Outraged by Viral ‘Cocaine Mitch’ T-Shirts: People Are Dying of Overdoses

Liberals Outraged by Viral ‘Cocaine Mitch’ T-Shirts: People Are Dying of Overdoses

“If we sell enough #CocaineMitch shirts, we’ll buy you a sense of humor.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has embraced his “Cocaine Mitch” alter-ego as part of his 2020 reelection bid.

McConnell’s campaign website recently began selling red T-shirts featuring the veteran senator’s silhouette and first name sprinkled in white powder. The $35 shirt has quickly become the best-seller on his campaign website and a viral hit on social media.

However, the veteran senator’s political opponents are condemning the whole operation as somehow illicit.

On Wednesday, McConnell’s campaign tweeted a “than you” to “Cartel Members” who had bought a shirt and contributed to McConnell’s reelection stash. The post included a gif of mobster’s counting money.

“Cocaine Mitch” was originally meant as an insult. Coined a year ago by failed GOP Senate candidate from West Virginia and former coal magnate Don Blankenship, the nickname apparently referenced an old debunked claim that the family of McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, has a shipping background connected to drug dealers.

McConnell’s appropriation of the monicker was in keeping with his longtime willingness to play the bad guy. A proud partisan, he made his name in the Senate by defeating campaign finance reform in the 1980s, and has played a key role in enabling President Donald Trump’s agenda, in both cases infuriating Democrats.

Critics were again outraged by McConnell’s “Cocaine Mitch” branding, saying he was making light of the serious issue of drug abuse.

“There’s something troubling about a politician raising money in this way when so many people are languishing in prison for harsh penalties related to cocaine and other drugs,” Michael Collins, the director of Drug Policy Alliance’s national affairs office, told The Washington Post.

ThinkProgress, a liberal news website, cried out in a headline: “McConnell is fundraising with ‘Cocaine Mitch’ T-shirts as drug deaths skyrocket in Kentucky.” The writer went on to detail the toll the opioid epidemic has taken on his state.

In a separate line of attack, Eric Conrad, who has worked for Democratic campaigns, accused McConnell on Twitter of undermining conservatives’ traditional hardline stance against drug offenders.

McConnell’s campaign responded: “If we sell enough #CocaineMitch shirts, we’ll buy you a sense of humor.”

A campaign spokesman, Josh Holmes, told Bloomberg News that more than 1,000 orders have been placed for the “Cocaine Mitch” shirt. He said they had added bumperstickers in response to popular demand.

Cover image: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (Screen grab)

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