Saying the Republican Party’s establishment is “lost” in Washington politics, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney said Monday he will endorse U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for president.
“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 primaries, starting Wednesday with an appearance with Paul in Rock Hill.
Mulvaney will be Paul’s Eastern States co-chairman, the campaign announced. He is the first member of the S.C. delegation to make an endorsement in the GOP race.
Mulvaney said he decided actively to support Paul – a personal friend who shares a libertarian-leaning conservative philosophy – because he has grown “angry and frustrated” with the way the GOP leadership in Congress is handling issues today.
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“Candidly, it’s been depressing to be a Republican in Washington,” the Indian Land Republican said, as the GOP-controlled Congress failed to stop Democratic President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and struggles to pass a budget by month’s end that would cut off money 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. ...
“An anti-establishment move within the party is real,” Mulvaney said. “I’ve been trying to convince (House Speaker) John Boehner and (Senate leader) Mitch McConnell of that. They simply won’t listen to the elected members of Congress. Maybe, they'll listen to the voters.”
First elected to represent the 5th District in Congress in 2010, Mulvaney said Paul needs to make the argument that government finances are as important as foreign policy or social issues as he tries to win over voters in S.C. – home to the South’s first primary voting.
“The conventional wisdom is that South Carolina (will) be more leaning in favor of a hard, Christian right interventionalist,” Mulvaney said. “But the facts just aren’t bearing that out. And I think, if Rand can make the argument that the issue of the debt and the deficit is a moral issue, he might play very well here.”
Mulvaney said he regularly discusses philosophy and politics with Paul, adding the senator 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, Paul would work to “fix Congress” because — unlike Obama or former President George W. Bush — he philosophically is opposed to an overly strong executive branch and would prefer stronger legislative oversight of presidential actions and directives, Mulvaney said.
Paul has fared poorly in early polling, running eighth in South Carolina and 11th nationally in the 15-candidate field, after the withdrawal of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Paul, according to Real Clear Politics’ average of recent polls.
But Mulvaney said there still is time for Paul to harness the urge of GOP voters to elect an “outsider” candidate.
Paul is a “half-insider, half-outsider” who has the ability to change things from the inside out in Washington, Mulvaney said, adding he thinks Paul has the support and infrastructure in the early primary states needed to take advantage of that voter discontent.
Mulvaney doesn’t think the non-politicians in the GOP field – neurosurgeon Ben Carson, corporate executive Carly Fiorina and businessman Donald Trump – have the ability to change the GOP 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.
Rather than presidential politics, S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison said Mulvaney should focus on creating jobs in his district.
“Instead he's backing ideas that are outside of the mainstream and bad for South Carolina's middle class," said Harrison.
"Both Congressman Mulvaney and Senator Paul supported closing the Export Import Bank, which has cost Greenville 400 jobs, and resulted in Boeing, a major South Carolina employer, losing a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
State staff, the Associated Press also contributed