Former 2016 rival to now-presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul confirmed Tuesday that he will skip the Republican National Convention. Paul indicated his decision to bail on the convention had more to do with his commitments to his re-election campaign than any statement about Trump.
“You know, I’m going to be busy campaigning,” Paul said in an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” “I’ve got a race going on in Kentucky. I’m up for election in November, so I’ve got events scheduled for the next six weeks doing town halls around Kentucky. I’ve done 55 town halls so far, and I plan on trying to get another 50 town halls in in the next six weeks.”
“Conservatives had to suck it up and support moderate Establishment nominees and you know when the Establishment doesn’t win then they don’t necessarily like having to support otherwise.”
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When asked if he was staying home because he didn’t want to support Trump, he reaffirmed his campaign as the reason. LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham joked she could get him and other Republican holdouts on Trump to the RNC on a private jet if it would help.
“Ya, I think it’s really my election and I’ve got to run my race and be there, and the problem with being in Washington so much is that it occupies so much time that, you know, you really do need time to be at home, to travel around to all the different cities and to meet with folks,” he said. “And so, no, it’s just a matter of needing enough time to be at home.”
“I think I’ve already got everything planned and everything set in stone,” he said.
In an interview Monday, another former 2016 contender, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, announced he wouldn’t be voting for either nominee because of their respective characters. Paul emphasized the importance of all Republicans, particularly those who made a pledge, supporting the nominee.
“Well you know when I was running for president everybody thought, well the Establishment candidate might win, and Trump might run as a third party so they ask everybody to sign a statement saying, you know what, I pledge to support the nominee,” he said. “It was done to prevent Trump from running as the third party. It was never done intending that he would be the nominee but everybody signed it. And I guess I value my signature, I value my word and so I think it is important that people do support the nominee.”
“For many, many years people have sucked it up,” Paul said, “Conservatives had to suck it up and support moderate Establishment nominees and you know when the Establishment doesn’t win then they don’t necessarily like having to support otherwise.”
Paul also noted Trump’s position on issues had the key elements for a win in November and to expand the Republican base.
“I think there are many things that Trump is talking about as far as trying to restore our country, as far as trying to lower taxes on business, as far as trying to lower the regulatory burden, and really frankly his discussion that the Iraq War was a mistake are a new kind of vision that has a chance of sort of bringing together a coalition that can win,” he said, “And I think you combine that with the disaster and dishonesty of the Clintons and I think there is a recipe for victory.”
Ingraham emphasized the importance of Paul as a potentially unifying figure and how much the RNC needs to hear his voice at the convention.
“I think the party really needs you,” she said.