(CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he's unhappy with Sen. John McCain for taking aim at Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow Republican, over the Kentucky senator's nearly-13 hour filibuster this week.
"I'm really disappointed in John McCain, and I'm very saddened by it," Gingrich said Friday on CNN's "The Situation Room." "McCain in his younger years was a great maverick. He took on his party all the time."
While McCain is never a shy critic of the Obama administration, he wasn't too pleased with Paul's own standoff against the president this week. The Kentucky senator blocked a confirmation vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan until the administration answered his question about drone policies. Fourteen Republicans and one Democrat joined Paul on the Senate floor throughout the day.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Paul's argument wasn't "helpful to the American people." Along with fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain criticized Paul for drawing up paranoia that the Obama administration would consider killing Americans with drones.
McCain defended his argument Friday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
"I always do what I think is right. I think I understand national security, I've been invovled in it in one way or another since I was 17," he said, adding that the are more important priorities to spend 13 hours on, namely the ongoing unrest in Syria and the recent threats from North Korea as examples.
During his filibuster, Paul cited actress Jane Fonda, who notoriously protested against the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
"No one will ever forget Jane Fonda swiveling around in North Vietnamese armored guns, and it was despicable. And it's one thing if you're going to try her for treason, but are you just going to drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?" Paul asked during his marathon session.
McCain, who admitted Fonda wasn't his "favorite American," said on the Senate floor it was inappropriate to bring up such a hypothetical situation.
"Somehow to allege that the United States of America – our government – will drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous," the Arizona Republican sniped on the Senate floor.
Gingrich, however, said McCain was out of place.
"The idea that he's now lecturing the next generation because they had the guts to stand up–I would have thought John McCain would have applauded (Paul)," Gingrich said. "I don't know what's happened to John McCain but I find it very sad."
The 2012 presidential candidate said he sided with Paul's argument, saying he was right to demand more answers about how the law applies to the new technology.
And Paul himself responded to McCain's chiding on Friday, saying on Mike Huckabee radio show that he doesn't get the best treatment from McCain.
"I treat Sen. McCain with respect, I don't know if I always get the same in return," he said.
Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer what Gingrich makes of this apparent split among Republicans on the issue, he said "there's a deeper split. "
"It's a split about tone. There are some Republicans who are so used to going to nice restaurants in Georgetown and they're so used to hanging out with their friends in the establishment, that the tone bothers them," Gingrich said. "I saw nothing that Rand Paul did that was inappropriate."
Asked to respond to Gingrich's criticism, McCain said "Newt and I have been friends for many many years."
"I respect his opinions. He's a very bright guy," he said on "Piers Morgan Tonight." "We'll remain friends.
– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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