McConnell still backing Rand Paul's plan to run for Senate and President at same time
SIMPSONVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell says he still supports Rand Paul's effort to run for re-election and campaign for President.
His comments come just ahead of a crucial decision by state Republican leaders.
By law, Rand Paul's name cannot appear on the ballot twice in Kentucky, so with McConnell's blessing, state GOP leaders may change the rules.
“Don't ask me who I'm for. Don't ask me to get into all that,” joked McConnell as he spoke to a meeting of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau in Simpsonville.
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader avoided diving deep into the GOP presidential primary as he spoke to the crowd, but afterward again made clear whom he supports in the crowded field.
“I am for Rand Paul, but I'm not going to be intervening in the presidential contest,” he told reporters.
McConnell says he does support Paul's campaign to change the way Kentucky Republicans make their choice for president. On Saturday, the GOP Central Committee will decide whether to hold a caucus next March instead of a primary in May, allowing Paul to run for President and re-election to the U.S. Senate at the same time.
“All we cared about was giving Rand a chance in his presidential race, and because of the peculiarities of Kentucky law, he asked us to do a caucus. All I asked of him was to defray the cost, and he's indicated he's going to do that,” said McConnell.
The website Politico is reporting that the Paul campaign has already deposited a quarter-million dollars in the state GOP bank account, with a promise for $200,000 more to pay for the caucus.
State GOP Chairman Steve Robertson would not confirm that, but McConnell says Paul is good for the cash.
“I've said I think it's appropriate to have the caucus provided it doesn't cost the party anything, and Rand has said he'll pick up the tab and that's good enough for me,” said McConnell.
But with Paul's campaign losing its early momentum, some, such as WDRB columnist John David Dyche, are calling on Paul to make a choice now to run for either the Senate or the White House, but not both.
McConnell will not go there.
“I'm trying to be helpful to Rand in every that I can. He does want to run for the Senate again. That's important. And my expectation is he'll file for the Senate in late January before the filing deadline,” he said.
In his letter, Paul emphasized he wants neither the counties nor the state party to be on the hook for the expense of the caucus. The Central Committee will consider Paul's request on Saturday.
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