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McConnell Launches Afghanistan Message Offensive

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has launched a new message offensive to try to urge President Barack Obama to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and to persuade the top general in the region to testify before Congress.On Thursday morning, for the fourth time this week, McConnell used his leadership time on the Senate floor to renew GOP calls for Gen. Stanley McChrystal to testify on the administration’s strategy for Afghanistan.According to leadership aides, McConnell will continue to make near-daily floor speeches on the issue. Other members of the Republican leadership, as well as the rank and file, are also expected to chime in, focusing on the need for McChrystal to testify before the Senate and for the administration to call for a deployment of more troops to Afghanistan.A senior GOP leadership aide acknowledged that McConnell is following a messaging strategy similar to one that he has used previously on a number of other issues, most notably the closure of the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, the rising national debt, the costs of health care reform and the $787 billion stimulus bill.Under his strategy, McConnell and a handful of his lieutenants will lay the foundation for the GOP’s message over the next several weeks, using floor speeches as their primary vehicle.Republicans have seen some success using this strategy in the past. For instance, McConnell used it this spring to slowly build momentum on the Guantánamo Bay prison closure, helping push the issue to the front burner and build opposition to the Obama administration’s strategy.