Sen. Jim DeMint has endorsed Rand Paul in Kentucky’s Senate GOP primary race, putting him at odds with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
DeMint (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday he would support Paul, an eye surgeon who is the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), through his Senate Conservatives Fund, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for conservative candidate Marco Rubio in Florida.
DeMint’s move will be seen by some Senate Republicans as a breach of protocol because he is stepping onto McConnell’s home turf to support a candidate McConnell does not.
McConnell on Tuesday formally endorsed Paul’s opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
“I rarely endorse in primaries, but these are critical times,” McConnell said in a television ad for Grayson.
DeMint said in a statement that he's not trying to undermine McConnell.
"Senator McConnell and I are on different sides in this race, but I support him as our leader," DeMint said.
DeMint touted Paul as a strong advocate for balanced budgets, an opponent of Washington’s culture of spending earmarks and a supporter of term limits.
"I'm endorsing Rand Paul because he's a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment," DeMint said. "Rand has been running on the issues that matter since the beginning of this campaign.
“He's not a career politician, and he's got the guts to stand up to the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are being forced on us in Washington,” DeMint added.