Newly re-elected Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has already made clear who he wants for President of the United States: Senator Rand Paul.
“Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul,” McConnell said to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”
The Herald-Leader asked McConnell if it would be a problem if someone else from his home state of Kentucky ran as well. “(It’s) not tricky at all,” McConnell responded. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”
Senator Paul hasn’t made a definitive decision on whether or not he wants to run for the highest office. Still, if he does then McConnell has said he would support him. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that,” McConnell said. But he’ll be able to count on me.”
Senator McConnell is widely seen as a more establishment-type Republican, and that is only reinforced by the fact that he will be the new leader of the senate majority when he returns next year. It will be a powerful position from which to support, not only a potential presidential run, but Paul’s bid for reelection in the senate at the same time. McConnell and Paul were able to overturn a provision in Kentucky which would have barred him from running for both offices at the same time.
The only problem now may be keeping Senator Rand Paul on the straight and narrow with his radical base of Tea Partiers, conservative Republicans and libertarians while he tries to expand his popularity with the rest of the nation. If Senator Paul continues his outreach to hispanics, African-Americans and women, he could potentially pull of a political realignment such as the one embodied by former President Ronald Reagan. Reagan enjoyed the support of many “Reagan Democrats,” as they came to be known. A winning coalition could be put together if Senator Paul were to call on libertarian ideas that attract Democrats. Even famous liberal celebrity Bill Maher has said that he would possibly vote for Paul over Hillary Clinton.
Paul’s only real liabilities in 2016 are those which made him the man he is in the first place, his father Ron Paul, and his radical base. Will the American people be able to grasp a libertarian ideology of economic freedom and personal liberty? Or will they be terrified when they realize that the other side of the coin means personal responsibility?
One thing’s for sure, the next two years will be interesting.