The Washington Times - September 25, 2013, 08:24AM

President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of education endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid on Wednesday, saying he is “proud to wholeheartedly” back the Kentucky Republican and calling on conservatives around the country to support the veteran lawmaker.

William J. Bennett, a Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute and host of the nationally syndicated talk show “Morning in America,” said Mr. McConnell “is a conservative stalwart and we have fought alongside each other in many battles over the years.”

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“He has a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and is one of the most conservative and consistent leaders I have ever worked with,” Mr. Bennett said. “As Republicans wrestle to find our way back, we need Senator McConnell’s principled leadership now more than ever. Fellow conservatives, he is one of us. We need to fight WITH Mitch, not against him.”

Mr. McConnell has come under fire from some grass-roots conservatives and tea party activists this week for not doing more to throw a wrench in the Democratic push to protect funding for Obamacare.

Mr. McConnell is running for a sixth term and faces a challenge from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin in the GOP primary.

The winner will face Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, in the 2014 general election.