Why Mitch McConnell's Tea Party Challenger Has A 'Credibility Problem'

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that the Republican primary challenger to fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell had his credibility hurt last week, when it was revealed that he had signed a letter showing support for the financial bailout program.

“I think it hurts any individual if it appears as if their responses to issues aren’t consistent,” Paul said at a campaign stop with McConnell in Kentucky, as quoted by the Associated Press. “So the fact that at one point he said he was for TARP but now he’s against TARP, it does hurt credibility.”

Bevin, the former president of an investment firm called Veracity Funds, signed an October 2008 report to investors that heaped praise on TARP as one of the bright spots in the economy. The report said to not “call [TARP] a bailout.”

Bevin has built much of his campaign on attacking McConnell and the “establishment” GOP on bailouts. His rhetoric has now been called into question by many Republicans as to whether it was genuine.

In fact, many of the national conservative groups that have endorsed Bevin cited his position against TARP as a major reason for doing so. The Senate Conservatives Fund highlighted his opposition to bailouts in their statement of endorsement.

“Matt Bevin is a true conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are destroying our country,” the group said in its endorsement statement. The group has previously said that it wants to ban bailouts.

In a blog post coupling its endorsement of Bevin, the grassroots group FreedomWorks compiled McConnell’s Top 10 worst votes. No. 4 was his vote for the “Wall Street Bailout.”

“Taxpayers should never have been forced to pay for the reckless lending practices of the big banks,” FreedomWorks wrote in the post. “McConnell took credit for being a major part of negotiating the bailout, and called the passage of TARP ‘the Senate at its finest.'” FreedomWorks believes TARP was “unconstitutional.”

For his part, Bevin told The Blaze last week that he “didn’t actually write the letter.”

“I was not the investment guy,” he said. “I never bought and sold the securities. So it would have been inappropriate and probably illegal, frankly, for me to have changed the investing commentary written by the sub-advisor the fund who was responsible for that.”

And for their part, the national and local Kentucky conservative groups are sticking by Bevin. (FreedomWorks didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

The Senate Conservatives Fund cast the Politico piece as a “smear,” and called on McConnell to retire.

“Mitch McConnell is trying to smear Matt Bevin because he’s terrified of losing the Republican primary. Mitch McConnell voted for the Wall Street bailout and has requested stimulus funds from President Obama at least a dozen times,” SCF executive director Matt Hoskins told Business Insider.

“He can’t defend his record so he’s trying to confuse voters about where his opponent stands. Mitch McConnell is a fraud and Kentucky voters know it. He’s going to lose the general election and cost Republicans the majority in the Senate. It’s time for Mitch McConnell to shut down his dishonest attack machine and retire with dignity.”

Still, neither Bevin nor the groups have offered an explanation as to why he would sign the letter while actively opposing measures that he was telling investors were a good idea.

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