Sunday's headlines about Kentucky's Republican presidential caucus almost looked very different.
And, the truth is, were it not for the efforts of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies, Sunday's conversation probably would have been about the rebuke Rand Paul received from in-state Republicans and the death blow they dealt to his struggling presidential campaign.
Because Paul was going to lose Saturday's vote.
The 147 members of the Republican Party of Kentucky's state central committee wanted to help Paul bypass a state law that prevents him from running for two offices on the same ballot, but they were not prepared to do so without some reassurances about the cost of holding a special presidential preference caucus.
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And Paul had no plan to ease their concerns beyond a tone-deaf plea for Republicans to simply trust him.
When the committee kicked out reporters and went behind closed doors Saturday morning, ostensibly to discuss budget issues, Paul made his pitch.
The pitch fell flat.
A combination of misreading the room and stubbornness led Kentucky's junior senator to think that simply asking Republicans to trust that he was good for the money would be enough to win a caucus.
It wasn't, and it almost cost Paul big.
Paul was running a trust deficit with people in the room after telling them in a letter this month that he already had transferred $250,000 to a state party account, only to have to apologize and make excuses during a Thursday night conference call after the Herald-Leader reported that no such transfer had been made.
It made sense that Paul would want to wait until after the caucus vote to transfer the money because he would have had a devil of a time getting it back if the committee had voted against him.
It made no sense that Paul would tell committee members he had transferred the money and even less sense that he would think he could convince committee members that they could trust him after that embarrassing snafu.
But those were Plans A through C on Saturday. Plan D was to run for president in the 49 states that aren't Kentucky and run for the U.S. Senate in the one that is.
Several Republicans who were behind those closed doors Saturday all said the same thing: Paul's trust-me plan was headed for defeat.
Then McConnell, for the second time this year, swooped in and saved the caucus for Paul, and he wasn't even in the room.
Mike Duncan, a longtime McConnell ally and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, along with Terry Carmack, McConnell's state director, came up with a plan for a funding trigger that assuaged the concerns of many skeptical Republicans.
Duncan introduced an amendment that if Paul transfers the $250,000 by Sept. 18, then the caucus is a go. If not, the party will revert automatically to holding its presidential preference contest on the traditional primary election date.
Carmack followed that up by standing, during the open debate portion of Saturday's proceedings, to remind committee members that McConnell has endorsed Paul's presidential campaign and the move toward a caucus, "especially now that we have a funding mechanism in place."
There were quite a few Republicans in the room who were going to vote for the caucus no matter what. Paul is from Kentucky, he's running for president, and they thought it was their job to do whatever they could to help him.
But there weren't enough of those Republicans to get Paul to a two-thirds majority.
Duncan's amendment, and Carmack's timely reminder, saved the caucus — and Paul — from untold embarrassment and countless political obituaries.
Paul needed 98 votes. He got 111.
McConnell and Paul never have enjoyed an easy relationship, especially when it comes to policy. But when it comes to politics, they have been there for each other when one senator has found his back against a wall.
Paul's early endorsement of McConnell in last year's Senate race was enormously helpful in denying Matt Bevin any momentum in his losing bid to take out McConnell in the primary.
That endorsement caused Paul a lot of problems with his base, but he stuck it out, even as Bevin angrily tried to dissuade Paul from getting involved as the primary campaign wore on.
And even after McConnell and Paul found themselves at sharp odds over renewing the expiring Patriot Act this year, Paul did not go the route of Sen. Ted Cruz, making McConnell an establishment foil in an effort to rile up the Tea Party base.
So perhaps it's no surprise it was McConnell and his allies rescuing Paul from himself Saturday, because the case could be made that McConnell owed Paul a little rescuing.
Given the stakes of Saturday's vote, it's safe to say that debt has been repaid with interest.