Mitt Romney endorses McConnell in Ky. and says country needs him as Senate majority leader

10/02/2014 09:07 PM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) LEXINGTON — Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell brought former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Kentucky Thursday to help raise money and publicly back McConnell’s re-election campaign.

After a fundraising event in Lexington, Romney joined McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao at a press availability on the property organized by the McConnell campaign where the former presidential hopeful voiced his support for the Senate Republican leader.

“I’m here to officially endorse Mitch McConnell, and I’m looking forward to seeing him as the majority leader in the United States Senate,” Romney said. “Mitch McConnell as a re-elected senator and as the majority leader will be good for Kentucky and will be good for America.”

Romney said a Republican majority would be beneficial because legislation “the American people want” would make it through both chambers of Congress and the president would have to decide whether or not he wants to work with Republicans. Those sentiments echo McConnell’s own remarks about his strategy if he becomes majority leader.

One issue McConnell and Romney differ on is raising the minimum wage. When asked about remarks on the minimum wage at a conservative summit organized by the Koch brothers, McConnell said he has said nothing in private he has not stated in public, noting he has previously supported a minimum wage increase.

“There have been times when I have voted to increase the minimum wage when I thought the economy was such that it wouldn’t destroy jobs and when it also included tax relief for some of the businesses who would be laying off people as a result,” he said.

McConnell went on to cite the number of job losses predicted by the Congressional Budget Office as a reason to hold off on an increase. Romney, who recently voiced support for minimum wage increase , declined to discuss the policy since he is not running for office and said of McConnell’s opinion, “He’s the guy running for office, and I surely support him.”

On foreign policy, Romney discussed many of the issues happening around the world and what he believes America’s policies should have been.

“This president has pursued a very different foreign policy,” Romney said. “Misjudging Russia’s ambitions and intentions, misunderstanding what would happen if we did not support moderate voices in Syria and get them armed, misunderstanding what would happen if Iraq didn’t have a status of forces agreement with American troops staying behind to support the Iraqi military.”

As for American foreign policy moving forward, Romney said a Republican majority in the Senate with McConnell as leader would be important in these strategies.

“The wonderful thing about having a Republican leader and a Republican Senate is you’re going to have issues like how big of a military we are going to have, whether we are going to have a Navy that remains larger than China’s, whether we’re going to have a nuclear deterrent which is at least equal to that of Russia,” Romney said, adding that a GOP majority in both chambers would lead to more bipartisan decisions as the president would have to hear from Republicans on these issues.

McConnell echoed Romney’s thoughts on foreign policy, saying that Republican control in Congress would allow some of the policies he feels have done harm to the country’s defense to be undone.

The final question to Romney was about the possibility of him running for president again in 2016 to which he responded by saying he would not make a run for the White House but looked forward to supporting a Republican who does. However, McConnell and Romney wrapped up the press availability before he answered whether or not that Republican would be Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who is considering a run.

Ahead of the event, the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes sent out a statement about the fundraiser, calling both men out of touch.

“Mitch and Mitt are the perfect pair: out-of-touch politicians who choose personal profits over people,” Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton in a statement. “Tonight’s exclusive cocktail soiree is just the latest reminder to Kentuckians that Mitch McConnell proudly shares Romney’s devastating agenda to demolish the middle class. Rather than work to create jobs, McConnell has repeatedly voted for tax breaks that ship our good Kentucky jobs overseas. The Commonwealth deserves a Senator committed to strengthening the middle class – not one who actively works to undercut Kentucky families.”

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