Politics

Despite his failed presidential run, Sen. Rand Paul easily won the Republican nomination for reelection to his Senate seat last week.

Paul said he would support his former rival in the presidential race — Donald Trump — in the likely case that the New York businessman is the party’s nominee. But during an interview at last week’s NRA conference in Louisville, Paul said Trump “has a ways to go” to unite the Republican Party behind him.

“But I think he’s heading in the right direction,” Paul added.

Trump is the only candidate remaining in the Republican nominating contest. He’s been working to unite GOP leaders who have been skeptical of his candidacy and conservative credentials.

Some Republicans have questioned Trump’s support of gun rights; he worked to solidify his qualifications at the Louisville NRA event, calling for the elimination of gun-free zones and bashing likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s record on guns.

During the interview, Paul applauded Trump’s recent attempts to appeal to Republicans more broadly.

“I think it’s been a good step forward that recently he put forward several nominees for the Supreme Court. And they all seem to have good conservative credentials, good believers in the original interpretation of the Constitution,” Paul said.

That’s a big difference from Paul and Trump’s feuding during the presidential campaign. Paul called Trump a “delusional narcissist” and an “orange-faced windbag” on the “Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly called on Paul to drop out and made fun of Paul’s hair and golf game.

Last week, Paul easily won the Republican nomination for reelection to his Senate seat. He’ll face Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, the Democratic nominee, in the general election.

Paul said he’s the man to vote for because of his conservative credentials.

“I don’t think we want somebody who’s a friend of Hillary Clinton’s, we want someone to stand up and be an opponent should we be unlucky enough to get Hillary Clinton in the White House,” Paul said.

Paul displayed some of those credentials at the NRA event, advocating for eliminating gun-free zones, including those in public schools, in a speech.

In a debate on KET between Democratic candidates for Senate earlier this month, Gray called on Congress to come up with a solution for increased gun violence.

“Over time, we know that things are changing. And today, we need to look carefully at these issues and not just abandon common sense. This is where common sense needs to come to the table,” he said.

Gray won the seven-way Democratic primary with 59 percent of the vote. Paul won the three-way Republican primary with 85 percent of the vote.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.