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Rand Paul pledges support for Mitch McConnell a day after Trump’s attacks

Rand Paul reacts to Trump’s tweets on North Korea and Mitch McConnell

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul responds to questions on the potential for a Korean nuclear war and on comments made by Donald Trump about Mitch McConnell during Paul's visit to Lexington on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, for a panel discussion on health care reform.
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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul responds to questions on the potential for a Korean nuclear war and on comments made by Donald Trump about Mitch McConnell during Paul's visit to Lexington on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, for a panel discussion on health care reform.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Mitch McConnell still has his full support a day after President Donald Trump vented his displeasure with the Senate majority leader several times.

Paul, R-Bowling Green, said Trump directed his anger at the wrong person when he went after McConnell for failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a pledge McConnell and Republicans have made since 2010.

“If there’s blame to go around, people from the states, the senators that promised to vote for it then didn’t, that’s who I think there needs to be a discussion with,” Paul said after a Lexington event to discuss his proposal to create health care associations.

Paul voted against McConnell’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare — saying it was a bailout for insurance companies — but voted for a bill that would repeal the law and let congressional Republicans hash out a replacement plan in a conference committee. All of the measures failed to win the 50 votes needed in July.

McConnell won Trump’s ire after saying the president had “excessive expectations” for his agenda during a speech Tuesday in Florence. Trump then tweeted critically about McConnell three times, said he was disappointed in McConnell and implied that if McConnell couldn’t get Trump’s agenda passed he should step down.

While some have speculated that picking a fight with McConnell is dangerous, particularly because McConnell controls the Senate’s agenda, Paul said he didn’t think the public feud would deteriorate their relationship or the relationship Trump has with Congress.

“I think there’s a back and forth all the time between politicians and we get beyond it,” Paul said before pivoting back to health care.

When asked about the President’s statements Thursday, a McConnell spokesman said the senator “has spoken repeatedly about the path forward regarding Obamacare repeal and replace multiple times on the Senate floor, at media availabilities and in Kentucky.”

When asked at the Fancy Farm political picnic on Saturday about his relationship with Trump, McConnell chuckled.

“I talk to the president a lot,” he said. “He loves to talk to people and I give him my position. As you can imagine we are frequently on the phone together. I give him my advice. Sometimes he takes it.”

Paul said Friday that he doesn’t think efforts to repeal Obamacare are over.

“I think the first round is sort of over and we still have problems and we need to fix it,” Paul said.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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