It wasn’t along ago when Mitch McConnell did his part to keep Rand Paul out of the Senate. Now it’s McConnell who seems to need the full-throated support from his state’s junior — and more popular – senator to keep his own seat.
McConnell’s campaign formally kicked off the senate minority leader’s re-election bid on Monday with an ad that highlights his unity with his fellow Kentucky Republican Paul.
“What he has done and what allows him to be the most powerful Republican up there is that he can pull people together,” Paul said in the ad.
The spot also features Kentucky Agriculture James Comer standing “united with Mitch.”
McConnell snubbed Paul in 2010 when he endorsed former Kentucky Secretary State Trey Grayson in Kentucky’s GOP Senate primary that year. Paul, of course, ultimately claimed the nomination and went on to win the general election. He’s since emerged as a national figure in Republican circles and his popularity at home has eclipsed McConnell.
The tension between the two camps surfaced in the form of a leaked phone call recording last year.
In the call, Jesse Benton, Paul’s 2010 campaign manager who’s know running McConnell’s campaign, told a conservative activist that he’s begrudgingly working on the GOP leader’s campaign only to bolster the presidential prospects of his former boss.
“Between you an me, I’m sorta holding my nose for two years ’cause what we’re doing here is gonna be a big benefit to Rand in ’16,” Benton said in the call.