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DeMint Praises Paul for Defeating ‘Washington Establishment’

Updated: 10:33 p.m.

Conservative champion Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) praised eye surgeon Rand Paul (R) on Tuesday for his Kentucky Senate primary victory and for defeating the party insiders who were backing his opponent, Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R).

DeMint, who is a supporter of the tea party movement that Paul embraced in his campaign, stopped short of naming Grayson’s most high-profile supporter, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). But DeMint’s news release Tuesday evening made it clear that Grayson had been “recruited, endorsed, and funded” by party insiders.

“The Washington establishment threw everything they had at [Paul] and yet he prevailed,” Demint said. “Rand’s victory is part of an American awakening that is taking place across the country as people embrace the principles of freedom that are the backbone of our country. It shows that Americans want strong leaders who will stand up to the massive spending, bailouts, and debt in Washington that are bankrupting our country.”

Through his Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee, DeMint has made several endorsements this cycle that have run counter to his party’s leadership. His most high-profile move was to back former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R) early in the Florida Senate primary, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee was backing Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist has since dropped out of the Republican primary to run as an Independent.

McConnell offered warm congratulations to Paul, saying in a statement, “Dr. Paul ran an outstanding campaign which clearly struck a chord with Kentucky voters and I congratulate him on his impressive victory.”

McConnell added: “Now Kentucky Republicans will unite in standing against the overreaching policies of the Obama Administration. We are spiraling further into unsustainable debt and Kentucky needs Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate because he will work every day to stop this crippling agenda.”

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) declared Paul “committed to fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and smaller government in Washington.”

“He will work tirelessly to restore the checks and balances that the families, seniors and job creators in the Bluegrass State deserve,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn also blasted Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

“If he makes it to Washington, voters can expect Conway to simply perpetuate the Democrats’ failed record of higher taxes, skyrocketing job loss and bloated government bureaucracy,” Cornyn said.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), whose retirement set off the open election in the Bluegrass State, called Paul “the right man to win in November.”

“His victory today is a clear signal to the Washington establishment that it’s time to shake things up,” Bunning said of the conservative Paul.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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