Tea Party Activists Support 'Fresh-Faced' Rand Paul Many states are holding Super Tuesday contests this week. In Senate primaries, the party favorites, in both parties, face serious challenges. In Kentucky's GOP primary, the Republican's choice Trey Grayson is under assault from first-time candidate Rand Paul, who is backed by Tea Party supporters.
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Tea Party Activists Support 'Fresh-Faced' Rand Paul

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Tea Party Activists Support 'Fresh-Faced' Rand Paul

Tea Party Activists Support 'Fresh-Faced' Rand Paul

Tea Party Activists Support 'Fresh-Faced' Rand Paul

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126877881/126877872" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Many states are holding Super Tuesday contests this week. In Senate primaries, the party favorites, in both parties, face serious challenges. In Kentucky's GOP primary, the Republican's choice Trey Grayson is under assault from first-time candidate Rand Paul, who is backed by Tea Party supporters.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

I'm Lynn Neary.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Long-time Senator Jim Bunning is not running reelection, but the Republican establishment's choice, Trey Grayson, is under assault from first-time candidate Rand Paul, who is backed by Tea Party supporters.

BRIAN NAYLOR: It's lunchtime at the MJ Family Restaurant in Edmonton, Kentucky, a tiny town in the South Central part of the state, and Rand Paul has brought his appetite.

RAND PAUL: Unidentified Man: Yeah, they got some really good food here.

NAYLOR: And while the fried catfish is pretty tasty, it's the appearance of Rand Paul that has brought Edmonton trucker Charlie Costello by.

CHARLIE COSTELLO: I'm supporting Rand Paul because he is a fresh face in politics and is one of the people, and not one of the career politicians. And besides, almost everything he believes and says is things that I have believed and said for years and years. I'm just glad we finally got somebody that thinks like I do.

NAYLOR: Unidentified Man: Disastrous bailouts, busted budgets, the health care takeover: Big government is out of control.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

AL CROSS: Paul has presented himself as someone who is willing to go to Washington and shake things up to challenge the status quo.

NAYLOR: That's Al Cross, director of the Center for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky.

CROSS: Even among Republicans, there's a substantial part of the electorate who aren't all that happy with the Republican establishment, Mitch McConnell being the chief example.

NAYLOR: McConnell is the state's senior senator and Senate minority leader. He was instrumental in persuading - some might say forcing - Bunning not to run for another term, and he's thrown his political muscle and organization behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT)

MITCH MCCONNELL: I'm Senator Mitch McConnell. I rarely endorse in primaries, but these are critical times. President Obama's spending threatens to destroy more jobs. I know Trey Grayson and trust him. We need Trey's conservative leadership to help turn back the Obama agenda.

TREY GRAYSON: You know, I love meeting my Facebook. I thought I recognized your face with the - and the name. But...

NAYLOR: Trey Grayson has been touring Kentucky in the final days of the campaign in an RV, meeting Facebook friends and selling himself as a conservative who can work with others.

GRAYSON: I'm not going to be the guy who's going to go up there and hold press conferences and jump on talk radio and yell and scream and make a lot of noise and vote no and not accomplish anything. I'm going to go up there, I'm going to work with Republicans and work with Democrats when I can, and get stuff done.

NAYLOR: But in this year of the Tea Party, working with Democrats to get stuff done is viewed with suspicion, and making a lot of noise is what many Republican voters seem to want most: a sentiment pretty in tune with Rand Paul.

PAUL: We win things, not necessarily. But I think we've already gotten some national attention, but I think we will have a pulpit. If we use it effectively, we may be able to change things in our country.

NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News.

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