February 17th, 2014
05:59 PM ET
9 months ago

Hemp brings McConnell, Paul together

(CNN) - They're known for appealing to different factions of the GOP, but Kentucky's two U.S. senators - Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul - teamed up Monday for three joint appearances to roll out a hemp pilot program in their home state.

And with McConnell facing a GOP primary challenge from a candidate backed by the tea party this year, he was full of praise for Paul, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 with support from that wing of the party.

"The junior senator from Kentucky is a national figure already, deeply involved in the national debate about the direction of this country," McConnell said while introducing Paul at one of Monday's events and explaining why national reporters may be covering the program's rollout. "I couldn’t be prouder to call him my colleague."

At another event, McConnell also said that Paul, who's seriously considering a presidential bid, "does a fabulous job" in the Senate.

The hemp pilot program, made possible by the farm bill recently signed into law, reintroduces the crop in the state. Kentucky once thrived off production of the plant, but hemp became illegal when the federal government grouped it in the same controlled substance category as marijuana after World War II.

Paul offered his own praise for McConnell, saying the hemp program would have gone nowhere without his help.

"So I think we really all should understand that we are very privileged to have Senator McConnell and he got this passed for us," he said.

It's not unusual for two lawmakers to compliment each other during a joint appearance. But just last week, Paul gave a less-than-enthusiastic explanation for why he endorsed McConnell last March for his 2014 re-election bid.

"One, he asked me, and two, because he asked me when he did not have an opponent. It wasn't a choice at that time," Paul said in an interview with the conservative-leaning Blaze last week. "But three, I also am somebody who believes in bringing people together."

The pair's relationship has been tense at times, especially given that McConnell endorsed Paul's 2010 primary opponent, Trey Grayson.

"But since then, they have merged a mutually beneficial relationship here," Joe Arnold, political editor of CNN affiliate WHAS, said Monday on "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

Some political observers note the dynamics between the two represent a wider divide in the GOP between the establishment and the libertarian leaning base.

But even though McConnell is thought to have a healthy advantage over his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, he still needs to pull voters from the far right into his column–something Paul may be able to help him do.

"There's no question that Mitch McConnell has seen Rand Paul as an essential player here in Kentucky," Arnold said.


Filed under: Kentucky • Mitch McConnell • Rand Paul
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Vote this Mitch McConnell idiot out. This guy is so pathetic.

    February 17, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching the Guns Over People tea potty walk the plank toward November,lying more than ever before.

    February 17, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Rand and Mitch sure know how to use that government money.

    February 17, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. 2_indy1600

    Ironic to see conservative flanks of the party moving together over hemp, but it's about time. Liberal attacks start in 3,2,1 and....

    February 17, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Maybe sharing a "joint" would encourage cooperation, civility, and goodwill among politicians of different persuasions in Washington.

    February 17, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    McConnel has a minor risk against his primary opponent, and will be if he wins a vote against the far right tea party in His state. In that sense I wonder why McConnel is asking Paul's support.
    If he gets past the primary and turnout is higher than normal he could conceivably lose his Senate seat to the Democratic challenger. QED his Senate minority leadership.
    If that were to happen the Republicans can say bye, bye, to taking the majority in the Senate.
    Regards.
    Hodgson.

    February 18, 2014 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  7. Thomas

    Aqua Buddha Brethren !

    Go Green till your blue in the face.

    February 18, 2014 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  8. troppo1

    "he was full of praise for Paul, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 with support from the WINGNUTS of the party."""

    February 18, 2014 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  9. salty dog

    They are very different, yet their not. These two clowns conversation said more than I needed, their only concern was what they could make you believe, truth was absent. Truth was and is the last thing you'll hear from this party.

    February 18, 2014 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    That's nice. They're having a pot summit in the Kentucky blue grass.

    February 18, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    he was full of praise for Paul, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 with support from that wing of the party
    -------------------------------------------------
    A couple of bong hits will have the Christians praising the lion keepers...
    Menawhile...I believe this is the first time that I've seen, in wiriting, someone admitting that the Tea Party is a "wing" ( the psychiatric wing) of the Republican Party versus a completely distinct Party like they"ve been trying to fool us all into believing since their inception.

    February 18, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pardon all typos please. I'm sneaking at work!

    February 18, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Does anyone remember the video clip of Paul approaching McConnell and begins speaking in hushed tones about what talking points to use to make last October's government shutdown seem like it was the Democrats' fault? McConnell was standing in front of a an open microphone, had told Paul as much, had tried to wave Paul away, but common sense took a back seat to talking points that day as McConnell coordinated on the exact phrasing both would in their sound bites.

    February 18, 2014 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  14. Wake up People!

    Aww isn't that cute. They're bonding over weed. But did they really need it? Couldn't they bond over their mutual hatred of the duly elected and reelected President? Why not plot to make him a two term POTUS???

    But a joint might just chill them out.

    February 18, 2014 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    BLAND Paul the worthless QUACK is the one who should be getting primaried for being the stupid moron that he is and I wonder who he stole his speech from??????

    February 18, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Rudy NYC
    Sorry I missed that Rudy.
    Who but two Republicans would willingly ignore an open mike while plotting against someone?
    You just can't make these people up.

    February 18, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Wake up People!

    Come on DM and Rudy..... You know that never happened...... At least I'm sure that's what their sheeple will say.

    February 18, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |