Saying the establishment wing of the Republican Party is “lost” in modern Washington politics, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney said Monday he would endorse U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for president.
“I’ve decided I’m going to get heavily involved in the campaign,” Mulvaney told The Herald, saying he would appear with and on behalf of Paul around South Carolina and beyond ahead of the presidential primaries, starting with an appearance with Paul at the old American Legion in Rock Hill on Wednesday.
Mulvaney will serve as Paul’s Eastern States co-chairman, the campaign announced. He is the first member of the South Carolina delegation to make an endorsement in the GOP race.
Mulvaney said he decided to actively support Paul – a personal friend who shares a similar libertarian-leaning conservative philosophy of government – because the Fifth District congressman has grown “angry and frustrated” with how the GOP leadership in Congress is handling issues today.
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“Candidly, it’s been depressing to be a Republican in Washington these past few weeks,” the Indian Land Republican said, as a GOP-controlled Congress has unsuccessfully fought to stop Democratic President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and struggled to pass a budget by the end of the month that would cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, a conservative priority.
“The establishment wing of the party is lost,” he said. “They’ve lost the ability to govern, the ability to listen to the people, to be Republicans.”
Paul, with whom Mulvaney says he regularly discusses philosophy and politics, has the ability to re-balance the relationship between the branches of government.
“We’ve talked about how to change the way government works... how to limit what the government does and get it involved with less,” said Mulvaney, whose district includes York, Chester and Lancaster counties. “That’s Rand’s bread and butter.”
As president, Mulvaney said, Paul would work to “fix Congress” because, unlike Obama or former President George W. Bush, Paul is philosophically opposed to an overly strong executive branch and would prefer stronger legislative oversight of presidential actions and directives.
“I am absolutely convinced we have to elect a president who does not want a strong presidency,” he said.
Although Paul is struggling to stand out among 15 other candidates in a crowded GOP presidential field, Mulvaney said, there is still time for Paul to harness the urge to elect an “outsider” candidate that he believes a majority of GOP voters want.
He doesn’t think some of the current candidates in the field – non-politicians like businessman Donald Trump, corporate executive Carly Fiorina, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson – have the ability to change the party establishment from the inside, because they haven’t been inside it.
“It’s hard to explain to an outsider what it’s like if you haven’t been inside it for a couple years,” Mulvaney said
Paul has the ability to attract those voters later in the campaign, Mulvaney said, because he’s a “half-insider, half-outsider” who has the ability to change things from the inside out in Washington.
Mulvaney believes Paul has the support and infrastructure in the early primary states to take advantage of that voter discontent, and he hopes his support will help push him over the top.