Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Paul: McConnell Win ‘Consistent With the Tea Party’

Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.

Paul, who upset the establishment-backed candidate in his own 2010 primary, had endorsed McConnell early in the race, which was a sour point for some on the right who viewed the incumbent as too entrenched and insufficiently conservative.

“I’m probably considered to be from the tea party, but I supported Sen. McConnell because I like, you know, that he’s a conservative,” Paul told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s a defeat of the tea party necessarily when he wins. I think he stands for conservative principles, and him winning is consistent with the tea party.”

“It’s not always, I think, as clear cut who is — since the tea party has no membership,” Paul continued. “It’s sort of like everybody — or a lot of people — say they’re in it, some people say they’re not.”

Now, Paul is seeking party unity as McConnell’s general election race against Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes kicks into gear. The Kentucky Senate race is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

“I was happy with Sen. McConnell winning yesterday, and I think he’ll be a good candidate and have a good chance in the fall,” Paul said.

Paul said McConnell’s primary challenger Matt Bevin had a “credible campaign” despite getting less than 40 percent of the vote Tuesday. He also offered an olive branch of sorts to Bevin.

“It’s just hard to win … against an incumbent, but you know, I think he’s got a future if he wants to continue work in the party,” Paul said of Bevin. “I hope he will support Senator McConnell, the nominee, because I think that’ll show that there are no sour grapes and that he’s really willing to, you know, do what’s best for Kentucky and for the Republican party.”

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  • Bill

    I love Rand Paul, and I understand he’s saying what he has to to keep McConnell and the GOP Establishment from doing to him what they did to Matt Bevin. Rand wants to be President, and it is in everyone’s best interest that he gets there, so he’s got to try to keep the Establishment’s target on his back as small as he can. They have the money and the firepower, bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce.

    However, there’s not a chance in hell we’re supporting McConnell in the general election. He is too detrimental to our interests, and it will send one hell of a message to the GOP Establishment. Rand can keep his nose clean on this one. We’ll handle it from here…

    P.S. McConnell using Republican Senate Campaign funds to oppose Rand in 2010 is one of many reasons why McConnell is being put out to pasture in November.

  • D.C.J.

    We as Americans now need to put primaries behind us and stand up for the ones who can help. Anything is better than Harry Reid’s or Nancy Pelosi’s of Congress. Mobilize, Vote, and Kick Out.

  • Layla

    Mr. McConnell has a big problem. When someone comes out of nowhere and runs against a Senator who is the Minority Leader and who has been in office for decades, you expect to win by a lot more than 60%. That means 40% of his party are unwilling to return him to Washington. That doesn’t sound like a win to me, no matter how hard Rand Paul tries to spin it.

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