Paul and McConnell show how they need each other

08/13/2013 09:37 PM

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is all in with his support of fellow Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Paul has been making good on his pledge to support the senior senator’s re-election bid with glowing introductions of McConnell and a defense on national TV. And in a way, he has been confirming the underlying message in Jesse Benton’s recorded comments that made headlines last week.

Forget the sensational “holding my nose” part of Benton’s comment. Benton’s main message was merely confirming what political observers had been saying for months: that this was a marriage of convenience. Benton was acknowledging that McConnell needed him (and support from Paul) because Paul will need support from McConnell in 2016.

And Paul has been doing his part. Paul defended both Benton and McConnell on CBS This Morning on Tuesday in light of the “holding my nose” comment.

And in his direct appeals to Kentucky Republicans, Paul has been free with his praise of McConnell without making it sound too forced.

“Even before I got there, Sen. McConnell has been very helpful to me getting things introduced, helping get legislation passed,” Paul said Saturday at the Bowling Green Area Reagan Day Dinner in Paul’s hometown. Paul went on to say what “allows him to be the most powerful Republican,” is his ability to pull together 45 Republicans with different opinions. Here’s his introduction of McConnell:

At that same dinner, McConnell touched on perhaps the biggest thing he could do to help Paul in his bid for the White House: become majority leader.

That will require McConnell winning re-election next year and helping enough of his fellow Republicans win to take the Senate. Becoming Senate majority leader would allow him to “control the agenda,” as McConnell put it.

McConnell said his first goals would be to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass a national right-to-work law. But, if he’s in charge of what comes to the Senate floor, McConnell would have the power to give Paul a bigger stage for bills and amendments, including potentially some of the same national security issues that have rankled other Republicans, like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Given that their relationship began with McConnell telling Kentucky Republicans to vote for Paul’s 2010 primary opponent, the two U.S. Senators have come a long way. And now they need each other.

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