Senator Rand Paul arrives for the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, jan. 28, 2014.
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Rand Paul’s endorsement for Mitch McConnell turns awkward


Senator Rand Paul may need to work on his elevator pitch for re-electing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Appearing on Glenn Beck’s show on Saturday, Paul was asked why he decided to endorse fellow Kentucky Senator McConnell, who is fending off a primary challenge from businessman Matt Bevin. At first, Paul changed the subject to an endorsement he was delivering in Texas for Donald Huffines, a state senate candidate. When he returned to the issue of McConnell, he explained how the veteran legislator had earned his enthusiastic backing by… showing up first. 

“Because he asked me,” Paul said. “He asked me when there was nobody else in the race. And I said yes.”

Paul’s relationship with McConnell has had its ups and downs. When Paul ran for Senate in 2010, McConnell backed his opponent Trey Grayson in the Republican primaries. Paul’s success coincided with the rise of the tea party movement, which often views longtime Republican leaders like McConnell with suspicion, and some of the same conservative groups that backed Paul are now trying to unseat McConnell. 

McConnell has done his best to court Paul in order to shore up his right flank, including hiring one of his top aides, Jesse Benton, as his campaign manager. That produced an awkward moment of its own when another Paul aide leaked a recording of Benton telling him over the phone that by taking the McConnell job he was “holding my nose for two years, because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ‘16.” Benton reiterated his support for McConnell after the audio surfaced and is still running his campaign. 

Rand Paul's endorsement for Mitch McConnell turns awkward