Sen. Rand Paul endorses Mitt Romney [VIDEO]

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul came out and endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency Thursday night during the broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” program.

Paul’s move may seem overdue, but his timing was complicated by the fact that his father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, stayed in the GOP presidential nomination contest so long.

“Before you say what I think you’re going to say, did you check in with your congressman father?” host Sean Hannity asked.

“Well, you know, my first choice had always been my father,” Paul responded. “I campaigned for him when I was eleven years old; he’s still my first pick. But you know, now that the nominating process is over, tonight I am happy to announce that I’m going to be supporting Gov. Romney.”

“If you didn’t support your father, by the way,” Hannity allowed, “I would really question family loyalty there. And I think it was totally understandable.”

Paul said he had met with Romney to discuss his — and his father’s — concerns about the need to audit the Federal Reserve. “We think there needs to be more transparency to the Fed, and more oversight by Congress,” he said. “This is something that Gov. Romney was supportive of throughout his campaign, and also was supportive of in private to me.” (MATT LEWIS: Vice President Rand Paul?)

He also focused on Internet freedom issues, again leaning heavily on his father’s political agenda. “My dad has a legion of young followers who are on the Internet,” Paul explained. “And they think they rule the Internet. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But they are very concerned about the freedom of the Internet. … Gov. Romney’s right there with us on those issues also.”

The five-minute interview included special attention to the REINS Act, which Sen. Paul sponsored, which would require congressional approval of new federal regulations that cost the U.S. economy more than $100 million. And when Hannity asked if the county could withstand four more years of an Obama presidency, Paul reflected on the impact to his state and its coal-heavy economy.

“My state is really suffering. We stand to lose 50,000 jobs in the coal industry if President Obama continues. … President Obama has allowed the tilt and the balance to go so far that he’s crushing the economy and crushing jobs,” he said. “I think that Gov. Romney would have a more balanced approach to regulation. … I know that Gov. Romney will allow the Keystone pipeline to occur.”

Paul also said that he would actively campaign for Romney, especially since — as Hannity put it — he and his father “are very well loved in the tea party movement.”

“I can be an asset in solidifying the conservative base of the party, but I also think that myself, my father, and the movement that he started attracts a lot of independents also. So a lot of these young people aren’t necessarily the conservative base.”

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