Paul now turns attention to setting up Senate staff and working with McConnell

11/03/2010 05:01 PM

BOWLING GREEN — U.S. Senator-elect Rand Paul and his fellow Kentucky Republican, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, say they’re looking forward to working with each other — they swear.

Both of them insist the two will get on the same page about big issues.

But the two were nagged throughout the campaign by questions about how well the two got along after McConnell publicly backed Trey Grayson over Paul in the primary and Paul sidestepped questions for much of the race about how firmly he would support McConnell as GOP leader.

Then on the morning of the election, Paul told CNN: “We will challenge him from day to day, but there will be many areas in which we agree.”

When reminded of the comments, McConnell told reporters Wednesday that Paul will simply join the club.

“That wouldn’t distinguish him from everybody else in the conference,” McConnell said of his fellow Republicans. He has often described working with the Senate Republican caucus as being an example of the “80-20 rule,” in which he spends 80 percent of his time dealing with 20 percent of that group to keep them in line.

McConnell said he was “deeply involved” with Paul’s campaign since the primary and had “a good working relationship.”

“I’m not a dictator,” McConnell said. “The Senate is a place that stresses individualism. And there are people in the conference who differ with me all the time. This is nothing personal and nothing unusual.”

Paul said Wednesday morning that McConnell called him early on election night to discuss the future.

Less than 12 hours after being elected the next junior senator from Kentucky, Paul did an interview with Fox News, a news channel on which he frequently appears. Members of the local media slowly filed into the side room quietly, waiting for their turn to interview him.

Paul seemed relaxed after a long, increasingly nasty campaign. He laughed at comments and questions at times, enjoying the victor’s spoils. His half-finshed breakfast sat five feet away.

He said he’s going to take a few days off. He didn’t shy away from his campaign platform and said he wants his first accomplishment to be getting a handle on the national debt.

He said he wants to position his Kentucky offices in different cities than the ones McConnell has his offices in order to provide more services. Paul was coy about some issues of senatorial importance, like who will be his chief of staff and Kentucky office director, saying that the announcement of those hires would come later.

And Paul didn’t shy away from talking about other issues, such as looking at reforming campaign finance. However, he said does support the Supreme Court in it’s Citizens’ United case and opposes the McCain-Feingold act.

-Reporting and videos produced by Chris Bratton and Kenny Colston with additional reporting by Ryan Alessi

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