Rand Paul’s tepid McConnell endorsement: ‘He asked me when there was nobody else in the race’

On Saturday, Glenn Beck conducted an interview with Rand Paul for the Blaze. When Beck asked the Kentucky senator why he endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's facing a tough reelection fight this year, Paul couldn't come up with much of an answer.


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), center, and  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, at a vice presidential  debate in Danville, Ky., on Oct. 11, 2012. (John Gress/Reuters)

"Can we start with the hardest question that I have for you," Beck says in the video first published by Talking Points Memo. "Why are you endorsing Mitch McConnell?"

After a few moments of silence, Paul answered, "Um, I'm here in Texas today to endorse Don Huffines!" Huffines is a conservative running for the Texas Senate who has also been endorsed by Rick Santorum. Rand Paul laughed, and then went on to say, "We've got our signals crossed here!"

Paul then answered Beck's question: "I'm going back to Kentucky because he asked me. He asked me when there was nobody else in the race. And I said yes."

Beck responded, "Well, Al Gore has asked me to change my opinion on global warming, and I don't do that.

In Rand Paul's 2010 senate primary, McConnell endorsed his opponent, Trey Grayson.

Earlier today, McConnell's primary opponent, Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman with Tea Party bonafides, echoed Paul's statement at an event held by the tea party group Freedomworks in D.C, as reported by Sean Sullivan. "Rand made this decision before I was in the race. That's his opinion. Rand is one vote. Rand will vote one time." He added, "All the people who ultimately coalesce behind him are already behind me."

According to the latest Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll, McConnell leads Bevin 55 percent to 29 percent. If McConnell were to face off with Democratic senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes today, she would win by 4 percentage points, according to the poll.

Paul's comments hearken back to another suggestion of a somewhat loose alliance between Paul and McConnell. McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who is a veteran of Paul-world, was recorded last year saying that he was "holdin' my nose" to work for the Senate minority leader.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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