Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) announced his support for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during an appearance on Fox News' 'Hannity' Thursday night.
"My first choice had always been my father. ... He's still my first pick," said Paul, who had previously backed his father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R). "Now that the nominating process is over, tonight, I'm happy to announce that I'm going to be supporting Governor Romney."
Paul told Hannity he recently met with Romney for 30 minutes in Washington. They had a "free-ranging discussion" about issues of importance to the senator, his father, and to many of his father's followers, including auditing the Federal Reserve System, the Internet piracy SOPA legislation and the REINS Act that would increase congressional authority over regulatory agencies, Paul said.
But the Kentucky senator placed special emphasis on the 'kinship' he and Romney share over family values and the "importance of the family unit".
Ron Paul Thursday night sent an email to his supporters acknowledging that he had not secured enough delegates to be the nominee.
Romney's campaign put out this statement:
"I am honored to have earned the endorsement of Rand Paul. Senator Paul has been a leading voice in the effort to scale back the size and reach of government and promote liberty. Over the past three and half years, President Obama has made government more and more of a presence in our lives, and Americans can’t afford four more years of the same failed policies. As president, I will reform the federal government and make it smaller, simpler, and smarter. I am grateful for Senator Paul’s support and look forward to working with him to get America back on the right track."
Read the full transcript of Sen. Rand Paul on Hannity below:
HANNITY: First of all, before you say what I think you're going to say, did you check in with your congressman father -- presidential candidate who I guess officially finally dropped out of the race?
PAUL: Well, you know, my first choice had always been my father. 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'm happy to announce that I'm going to be supporting Governor Romney.
HANNITY: Look, if you didn't support your father, by the way, I mean I would really question family loyalty there, and I think it was totally understandable. And I know you love and you respect your dad. I agree with your dad on many issues. I have no idea why he is still mad at me and rejects coming on this program, but that's a whole different story for another day. Tell me why you are supporting Gov. Romney?
PAUL: You know, I think it's interesting that Gov. Romney and I actually have quite a few similarities. Gov. Romney's dad ran for president and was unsuccessful. Gov. Romney then went on to support the nominee, the same way his dad did. Gov. Romney comes from a big family. I don't know them that well, but I think it's a big, loving family. So do I, I come from a family with five kids. Gov. Romney has five kids. He's had a long and happy marriage, so have my parents. I think we have a lot of the same family values, and trust and feeling of the importance of the family unit, and so that I think draws a kinship between our families.
But I met with him recently -- I had about a 30-minute meeting with him. He was nice enough to meet with me when he was in Washington recently, and we talked about a lot of issues. It was a free-ranging discussion, and we talked about issues that are important to me and important to my dad and to many of his followers. And many of these, you know, Gov. Romney has already taken a position on. One of the big issues for our supporters, for myself and for my dad is auditing the Fed. We think there needs to be more transparency to the Fed and more oversight by Congress, and this is something that Gov. Romney was supportive of throughout his campaign and also was supportive of in private to me. We talked about other issues that are important to my dad's followers. My dad has a legion of young followers who are on the internet, and they think they rule the internet. Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but they're very concerned about the freedom of the internet. There's been legislation recently that Gov. Romney came out and was opposed to, this SOPA, which would take away some of the process of ownership on the Internet, and we were very afraid that it would limit Internet freedom. Gov. Romney's right there with us on those issues also. So i think there is a lot of kinship on those issues.
Another big issue for me is the REINS Act. I am the chief sponsor in the Senate on a bill that would say that any major regulation -- and I think we've got so much over regulation now -- that any major rule or regulation that would cost the economy over $100 million should have to come back and be voted on in Congress. Gov. Romney's right there with me on that issue. So i think we have a lot in common and a lot of things to fight together on.
Watch the full interview: