If Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) decides to run for president in 2016, he’ll have fellow Kentucky Republican lawmaker Mitch McConnell’s support.
McConnell told CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday that he will “almost certainly” be supporting the Paul for president campaign at some point, but not in early primary states.
“I’m going to be helpful to him in any way I can be,” he said. “But I’m not going to be tromping around in New Hampshire and Iowa, I can tell you that.”
McConnell and Paul got off to a rough start back in 2010 due to many of the junior senator’s anti-establishment leanings, but they have since improved their relationship in Congress.
“I’m a big fan of his,” McConnell said. “I mean we started off on opposite paths, but we’ve become great allies. … I think he’s a very, very smart, capable guy.”
Meanwhile, Paul told a Kentucky ABC affiliate this week that he’ll welcome back former staffer Jesse Benton, who had worked for Ron Paul and resigned from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) re-election campaign in August following a political scandal involving the elder Paul.
“I think Jesse [Benton] is honest, he’s good at politics and I don’t think he’s done anything wrong,” Paul said.
“Jesse is married to my niece and was a big help in the Kentucky election here in 2010 and a big help for Sen. McConnell,” Paul also said. “He’ll help us.”
Paul didn’t indicate what role Benton might play, as the Kentucky Republican will be running for Senate re-election and, likely, for the presidency.
“That decision isn’t made yet,” Paul said, “but we are doing things to be prepared if it were to happen.”
“There’s still uncertainty and time to sort of make final decisions over the next few months.”
The lawmaker is expected to announce whether he’ll run for president this spring.