The relationship between Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul has always been lukewarm at best, but the release of an audio recording Thursday in which McConnell’s campaign manager – and longtime Paulite – allegedly says that he’s “holding his nose” only served to further complicate that bromance.
The recording in question, as obtained by Economic Policy Journal, is also the latest blow to what is quickly becoming the Senate Minority Leader’s most difficult re-election campaign ever.
“Between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ’16, so, that’s my long vision,” the voice believed to be McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton says in the audio.
The campaign quickly responded, posting on Facebook a picture of McConnell and Benton standing next to one another in which the latter is holding his nose.
“LIKE if you agree: Nothing smells worse than #Obamacare! #NoseGate,” the photo’s caption reads.
McConnell does have a Tea Party candidate, Matt Bevin, challenging him in the primary, and a formidable Democratic opponent in Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. In fact, recent polling between Lundergan Grimes and McConnell has the two candidates almost neck-in-neck with one another.
And yet Rand is still standing behind his senate colleague, despite the fact that Paul defeated McConnell’s handpicked establishment candidate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2010. The biggest proof of Paul’s support – loaning Benton to McConnell.
So why is this? Well, it is pretty much a guarantee that Paul will be on the ballot in November 2016, as his current senate term expires in January 2017. Having McConnell – and not Bevin or Lundergan Grimes – next to him in the world’s greatest deliberative body will help Paul with his election chances regardless of whether he runs for senate or president. While technically an establishment Republican, McConnell has – with the help of Paul – worked to improve his standing among Tea Party conservatives, even helping Paul out during his 13-hour filibuster in March. And McConnell, in turn, can do the same for Paul among establishment Republicans more likely to choose a Chris Christie over Paul in the Republican presidential primary.
Thus for both politicians’ sakes it’s best if “NoseGate” blows over, but only time will tell if that’s actually the case – or if this is sadly the beginning of the end of the duo’s bromance.