- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney announced Monday he would be supporting Rand Paul’s bid for president, making him the first South Carolina congressman to officially back a Republican candidate seeking the 2016 nomination.

In an interview with The Associated Press before the announcement, the South Carolina Republican said he chose to back Paul because he believes voters, particularly in this early-voting state, will embrace a Republican candidate who breaks with the party’s establishment and supports less government involvement in their lives.

“I think an anti-establishment move within the party is real,” Mulvaney said. “I’ve been trying to convince John Boehner and Mitch McConnell of that. They simply won’t listen to the elected members of Congress. Maybe they’ll listen to the voters.”

Mulvaney was first elected to represent South Carolina’s 5th District in 2010. He said Paul needs to make the argument that a debate over government finances is as important as hot-button foreign policy or social issues as he seeks to win over voters in South Carolina - home to the South’s first primary voting.

“I know that the conventional wisdom is that South Carolina be more leaning in favor of a hard, Christian right interventionalist,” Mulvaney said. “But the facts just aren’t bearing that out. And I think, if Rand can make the argument that the issue of the debt and the deficit is a moral issue, he might play very well here.”

In a release being sent out later Monday, the Paul campaign said Mulvaney will co-chair its efforts in the eastern U.S. Saying he’s not discouraged by Paul’s low-single-digit poll numbers, Mulvaney said he believes voters’ current fascination with a few non-politician candidates would quickly fade and that Paul’s candidacy will be most attractive among those remaining.

“What you’re seeing with Trump and now Fiorina is that expression of anger, frustration at the establishment wing of the party,” Mulvaney said. “Eventually, that group will settle on one person, and that one person is going to win the nomination. And I don’t see that person being Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Donald Trump.”

Mulvaney and Paul are slated to make several stops together in early voting South Carolina on Wednesday, starting with a meet and greet at the American Legion in Rock Hill.

Later Wednesday, Mulvaney and Paul are holding a rally at the University of South Carolina’s main campus in Columbia before traveling to Spartanburg for a meet and greet at RJ Rockers Brewing Company.

___

Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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