Two days after a conservative political action committee endorsed his Republican challenger, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was gifted a trump card in the form of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio, like Kentucky’s junior Sen. Rand Paul, has enjoyed immense support from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, and his endorsement of McConnell on Fox News Sunday gives the embattled senior senator some much-needed cover.
Rubio’s backing comes at a critical time for McConnell.
The Kentucky senator went on a media blitz at the end of last week, defending his role in brokering the compromise that ended the government shutdown and extended the debt ceiling.
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Matt Bevin, McConnell’s Republican challenger, got a needed boost on Friday when the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed his bid after Bevin blasted McConnell for agreeing to the deal on Wednesday.
McConnell “sold out conservatives,” Bevin said.
Rubio, who voted against the deal to reopen the federal government and extend the debt ceiling, came to McConnell's defense on Sunday after host Chris Wallace noted the Senate Conservative Fund's endorsement of Bevin and asked Rubio if he supported McConnell for re-election to the Senate next year.
“I do support Sen. McConnell’s re-election,” Rubio said. “I think he’s trying to lead our conference. It’s a diverse conference with a lot of different opinions, and that’s a tough job to begin with. And then of course he’s got to represent his own state. So look, I think at the end of the day he has done a good job of being the leader of the Republican conference in the Senate, and I think that’s not an easy job to do.”