A lot has changed since Rand Paul declared victory over his opponent, Trey Grayson, in Kentucky's GOP Senate primary. He made the quick transition from conservative firebrand to establishment dependent, as conservative leaders around the country stood up for him in the wake of a number of very public foot-in-mouth moments. Now, likely on the verge of winning a trip to Washington as Kentucky's Senator, he's again in the driver's seat, saying that people like GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can't necessarily count on his cooperation.
"We will challenge him from day to day, but there will be many areas in which we agree," Paul said of McConnell during an appearance Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."
McConnell chose Grayson over Paul in Kentucky's Republican primary, but has since announced his support for the Tea Party favorite, and has, at times, defended him from his own controversial views. McConnell told Politico in October that the two have been "deeply involved" since joining forces after the primary.
But Paul's statements Tuesday appear to be singing a somewhat different tune.
"Most Republicans think we're spending too much, the deficit's too high. But sometimes when we've gotten in power we've gone along and not really stayed the course," Paul said. "I will be one who will say to Republicans in my party, 'We do need to stay the course and go ahead and balance our budget.'"
"What I'm going to work to try to change is the whole government. I think government is broken top to bottom. And I think both sides - not just Republicans, not just Democrats - they've both shown themselves to be untrustworthy," Paul continued.
As some have pointed out, however, such visionary rhetoric may end up playing out more like an illusion of grandeur. Some have said that the establishment GOP will not be receptive to attempts by Tea Party-backed Senate candidates to shift the politics of Capitol Hill so far rightward, while others have argued that the Republican agenda has been so co-opted by the Tea Party that they will have little choice but to do so.
Paul mentioned similar misgivings about McConnell in a June debate. In October, however, the GOP nominee had changed his tune, expressing support for the Senate Republican leader. Paul's latest comments could indicate that he would support Sen. Jim DeMint if the South Carolina Republican made a play for the Senate GOP's top post.
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