And Benton sees his work for McConnell as serving the cause: He’s motivated in part by the idea of uniting the various factions in the GOP to achieve policy goals. “It’s a really, really important mission to bring all Republicans and conservatives together,” he says earnestly. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell’s partnership, he explains, is an example of how to do that.
“They both have tremendous cross-party appeal, but they each tend to draw their core of support from a certain wing of the party,” Benton says. “When they come together and help each other with the crossover support from across the party, I think it sets an example to Republicans across the country about how it can be. We can disagree on some things, but still really work together.”
Benton is also inspired by the idea of what McConnell could do as Senate majority leader if he is re-elected and Republicans take back the Senate in 2014. “Mitch McConnell as a conservative, as majority leader, setting the agenda in the United States Senate would be huge,” Benton says, noting that as majority leader, McConnell could, for instance, bring a border-security-only immigration bill to the floor.
Benton first became involved with Paul World in 2007. He had recently opened his own political firm, doing work for campaigns and outside groups, primarily in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Previously, he had worked for the American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and David Vitter’s 2004 Senate campaign in Louisiana.
He met Kent Snyder, a longtime Ron Paul ally who became the campaign chairman of the 2008 bid. Snyder, who has since passed away, was working out of an office tucked behind a Korean deli — you had to walk behind the counter to get to the office – in Arlington, Va. Benton, attracted to Paul’s message on spending, civil liberties, and foreign policy, initially worked pro bono for the elder Paul, but soon became a paid consultant.
Benton met his wife, Valori, in 2007, when he had arranged for Valori and other Paul family members to talk to a Texas Monthly reporter as part of the campaign. The two married a year later, around when Benton became involved with Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, which was launched in 2008.