For McConnell, Manchin, College Football More Than Just a Game

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012 02:54 PM

By Dan Weil

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., would seem to be natural allies, given Manchin’s strong opposition to President Barack Obama. But college sports have turned them into enemies, Politico reports.

The fight stems from a lobbying war between the senators’ alma maters — the University of Louisville (McConnell) and West Virginia University (Manchin). Both schools sought the final open spot in the prestigious Big 12 Conference, and West Virginia won.

A private spat between the two legislators on the Senate floor late last year went nuclear in a hurry, people present told Politico.

McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, read Manchin a quote from a Louisville official who said “no improper political influence” had been exerted as each senator sought the Big 12 invitation for his school. The minority leader also demanded a public apology from Manchin for suggesting that McConnell conducted himself in an “inappropriate or unethical” manner that could justify a Senate investigation into his campaign for Louisville.

Manchin would have none of it. He pledged only to stand up forever for West Virginia’s rights and the university’s football team.

The two senators have barely uttered a word to each other since.


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