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Hot mic picks up McConnell, Paul strategy session

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Hot mic picks up McConnell, Paul strategy session
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.y, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 26, 2013. UPI/Molly Riley | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Two top Senate Republicans openly discussed their party's government shutdown strategy in a conversation at the U.S. Capitol, picked up by a live microphone.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul -- both of Kentucky -- held the discussion Wednesday as McConnell was setting up for a television interview. The video was initially posted on the conservative website mofopolitics.com, The Hill reported.

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During the discussion -- which came after McConnell and other top congressional leaders met at the White House with President Barack Obama -- Paul suggested Democrats will pay a political price for their public position of not negotiating with Republicans on raising the federal borrowing limit or passing a so-called clean spending bill to fund federal government operations and end the shutdown.

He said the two sides' positions come down to "we're willing to compromise; we're willing to negotiate."

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"I don't think they poll-tested we won't negotiate," he said. "I think it's awful for them to say that over and over again."

"Yeah, I do, too," McConnell said. "And I just came back from the 2-hour meeting with him, and that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly."

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Paul said Republicans can win the messaging battle with Democrats "if we keep saying we wanted to defund [the Affordable Care Act], we fought for that, but now we're willing to compromise on this ... ."

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There has been speculation as to whether they knew the conversation was being picked up, but as the two begin speaking, McConnell tells Paul he is "wired up."

Obama and congressional Democrats have said they will not accept defunding or delaying implementation of the ACA as part of a deal to end the shutdown or raise the debt limit.

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