Mitch McConnell, the leader of the GOP minority in the Senate, struck an upbeat tone in his Friday morning address to the conservative activists gathered at CPAC. “Friends, this is a moment of renewal. I truly believe it,” he said. In this era of new beginning, McConnell is seeking his sixth Senate term next year, and the 71-year-old conservative Republican is embracing his much younger Kentuckian, Rand Paul.
“More than ever, we need the kind of constitutional conservatives we’ve got in the Senate who’ve been really bringing the fight to the left,” McConnell said to loud cheers. “And I’m going to mention my Kentucky colleague Rand Paul as an example of that. He’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. He’s a warrior, and we need more warriors.”
McConnell made sure to name-drop Paul several times for the crowd that received the junior Kentucky senator so well yesterday. He praised Paul, along with Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, as potential GOP presidential candidates in 2016. McConnell also lent his approval for Paul’s filibuster over drone policies.
“Last week, Rand reminded the world that politics isn’t just about tactics,” McConnell said. “Actually, it isn’t just about ideas, either. It’s about standing up for your values and your principles. It’s about courage.”
CPAC wasn’t the first time McConnell has aligned himself with Paul—and Paul with him. As minority leader, he was supportive of Paul’s filibuster from behind the scenes in addition to joining Paul on the floor of the Senate. Paul, meanwhile, has said he supports McConnell’s reelection effort, despite the fact that some grassroots elements of the Republican party in Kentucky were looking to mount a primary challenge to McConnell. Meanwhile, McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, worked for the 2012 presidential campaign of Paul’s father, Ron Paul.