Soon-to-be Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says he will back fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul for president if the libertarian-leaning Republican decides to run.
“I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul,” McConnell told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”
Pressed by the newspaper, McConnell said he will back Paul on whatever he decides to do in 2016. Paul will be up for re-election in Kentucky, but hasn’t officially announced whether he is running for the White House.
“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”
Paul endorsed McConnell in his recent election to the U.S. Senate, where he defeated businessman Matt Bevin in the primary and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election. McConnell also hired longtime Paul aide Jesse Benton during the primary as a way to keep Paul’s followers from potentially supporting a conservative alternative to McConnell during the primary.
It had been assumed since then that McConnell would repay the favor to Paul by endorsing him in a presidential run, despite the fact that McConnell and Paul are very different sorts of Republicans.
McConnell and Paul have not always been on the same page: when Paul first ran in 2010, McConnell supported establishment pick Trey Grayson over him in the Republican primary.
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