[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/14/art.bunning0414.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Jim Bunning, pictured, endorsed Dr. Rand Paul Wednesday."]
Washington (CNN) – Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul got an endorsement Wednesday from the man he is hoping to replace: Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky.
"I know what it takes to stand up for the conservative principles that are needed to make America a better place for our children and grandchildren," Bunning said in a statement. "Dr. Paul shares those same core values and has the courage and conviction necessary to make sure the voices of Kentucky's workers, families, retirees, and children are heard in Washington."
In a swipe at Paul's Republican primary opponent, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Bunning said Paul is the only conservative running in Kentucky who will take a principled stand against "the liberals and establishment politicians that run Washington" and "who believes in traditional values and the rights of the unborn."
(The shot at "establishment politicians" could be seen a jab at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, his fellow Kentuckian. Bunning and McConnell have a frosty relationship.)
Paul welcomed the endorsement with a nod to Bunning's recent opposition to a bill that extended unemployment insurance. Bunning objected to the legislation because Senate Democrats had not identified spending cuts that would have paid for extending the benefits.
"Senator Bunning's recent stand against deficit spending illustrates his deeply principled conservative leadership," Paul said in a statement. "We need to make sure those same Kentucky values continue on in the United States Senate. I am proud to carry that mantle forward and champion the fight for spending restraint and a return to Constitutional government."