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Rand Paul ‘very supportive’ of Lamar Alexander (but that’s not an endorsement)

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky’s Rand Paul said Monday that he’s “very supportive” of fellow U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander but stopped short of endorsing the Tennessee Republican, who is up for re-election next year.

Alexander’s campaign has been working to fend off potential primary challengers from the right. Tea party activists unhappy with Alexander staged a counter-rally last week when the senator held a campaign event in Smyrna. But a GOP opponent has yet to emerge.

Alexander’s first TV ad of the campaign features Paul, a tea party favorite, in the two senators’ role in halting an Army Corps of Engineers plan to erect barriers to prevent people from fishing below dams on the Cumberland River. The spot includes video of Paul saying: “Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.”

Paul told reporters before a forum at a Nashville charter school on Monday that he didn’t want to be drawn into what he called a media-driven “parlor game” about endorsements.

“I’m very supportive of Sen. Alexander, and I hope he doesn’t get an opponent, I hope he wins re-election,” Paul said. “I’m very supportive of him, but I really just don’t want to get trapped into all these political games.”

But Paul, who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, hasn’t completely exempted himself from political endorsements in Tennessee. He was in in suburban Nashville on Sunday night to speak at a fundraiser for state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin.

Alexander said he was comfortable with Paul’s position, noting that he has not been endorsed by any other U.S. senator other than Bob Corker, a fellow Tennessee Republican.

“We’re not here to endorse each other,” Alexander said. “What I try to do is earn the respect of my colleagues. And Rand Paul has certainly earned my respect for the way he speaks out and works on education, and I hope I can earn his.

“So we’re not here about endorsements; we’re here about how can we help teachers, and parents and children, and I appreciate very much what he has to say,” he said.

Alexander said his campaign ad featuring Paul was not meant to give the impression that he had won his endorsement.

“My TV ad I hope gives the impression that we’re pretty effective when it comes to defending the rights of fishermen,” Alexander said.

Rand Paul Hasn’t Endorsed Lamar Alexander

Aides to Sen. Rand Paul said the Kentucky Republican’s participation in Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign ad should not be construed as an endorsement for a third term in the Senate, reports Chris Carroll.
Paul, a tea party favorite who praises Alexander in the Volunteer State Republican’s statewide ads, said through a spokesman his remarks should be viewed in a very narrow context.
“The footage that Sen. Alexander’s campaign is using is from a public press conference in regards to a bill they both cosponsored,” spokesman Sergio Gor said. “At this time Senator Paul has not made an endorsement in this race.”
Viewed in a broader light, Paul’s actions belie his statement in the ad that “Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.
In fact, Paul opposed Alexander on three recent, high-profile votes: the “fiscal cliff” measure, an Internet sales tax bill and immigration reform.
Alexander voted for all three, angering some tea party activists.
Gor and Paul chief of staff Doug Stafford said the former Bowling Green ophthalmologist has not decided whether he’ll endorse Alexander or anyone in Tennessee’s 2014 Senate race.
To date, Alexander has not drawn a GOP primary challenger. But conservative opposition groups, including one called “Beat Lamar,” have sprung up across Tennessee. Lately, they’ve cited Alexander’s immigration vote as a reason to bring him home from Washington.
Initial reports about the ad, which deals with a bill fighting fishing restrictions, highlighted Paul’s presence and its effect on Alexander’s political future. An article in The Hill newspaper cites an unnamed Alexander campaign aide saying, “Paul’s inclusion in the video is designed to boost Alexander’s credibility among the grassroots Tea Party activists.”
But in a Friday phone interview, Alexander himself cautioned against “making more or less of the ad than there is.”
“I know how to run an endorsement ad, and this was not an endorsement ad,” Alexander said. “I’ve run into several people who saw the ad, liked it and understood it was about fishing.”

Alexander TV Ad: Fishing saved and Rand Paul Can’t Say No to Lamar!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lamar Alexander’s first ads of his re-election campaign feature fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite from neighboring Kentucky.
The Alexander campaign announced Friday it has bought $180,000 worth of ads to run over two weeks on broadcast and cable television and on the radio.
The ads highlight Alexander’s successful effort to place a moratorium on an Army Corps of Engineers plan to erect barriers to prevent people from fishing below dams on the Cumberland River. (It was, says Alexander in the radio version, “one of the most extreme cases of government overreach in history.”)
The spot includes video of Paul saying: “Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.”
Alexander’s campaign had $1.8 million on hand through the first quarter of the year. While some tea party groups have grumbled about a third term for Alexander, no Republican challenger has emerged so far.

Note 1: Politico says Alexander collected $2 million in second quarter fundraising and has some details on the ad, HERE.
Note 2: The Alexander campaign news release, with links to the radio and TV versions of the ad, is below.

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Rand Paul to Help With State Senator’s Fundraising

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — A potential Republican presidential candidate is headlining Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson’s annual summer barbeque in Franklin.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Bowling Green, Ky., is scheduled to attend the fundraiser at the Factory in Franklin on July 28. Several hundred people have attended the event in years past. Tickets are $50.
Johnson is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a prominent fundraiser in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Tennessee Republicans have not voted for the eventual presidential nominee in the primary since giving the nod to President George W. Bush in 2004.
In 2008, the Tennessee GOP primary was won by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee over U.S. Sen. John McCain, and in 2012 Republicans voted for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Sen. Rand Paul Triggers Alarm, Detained at Nashville Airport

Rand Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, was held at Nashville International Airport Monday morning for refusing to complete the screening process after he triggered an alarm, reports The Tennessean.
The Transportation Security Administration claimed Rand Paul triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue, TSA spokesman Jon Allen said.
The scanner found an “anomaly” on Paul’s knee, according to the Associated Press.
Paul claimed he asked for another scan but refused a pat down by airport security and was then detained at a small cubicle and missed his flight.
Paul said the situation reflects his long-standing concern that the TSA shouldn’t be “spending so much time with people who wouldn’t attack us.”