Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET on 7/28
(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul’s criticism of the National Security Agency’s spying programs puts him in the same category as the late George McGovern, the anti-war 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said Sunday.
Echoing remarks last week from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, King sharply chastised Paul for suggesting admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden was performing an act of civil disobedience when he revealed the massive snooping programs.
“When you have Rand Paul actually comparing Snowden to Martin Luther King or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness,” King said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is the anti-war, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years. I don't want that happening to our party.”
Paul, in an interview on Fox News in June, compared the jail sentences served by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thoreau for civil disobedience to the potentially long prison term Snowden could face.
“I tend to agree with his position on deciding when you decide to become a civil disobedient,” Paul told Fox on June 17. “You know, we had famous ones in our career. Some of them only had to serve, like Thoreau served only one day in jail. Martin Luther King served 30 days in jail. (Snowden) may be looking at life in prison. So, there's a question.”
Both Paul, and more recently Peter King, have said they're exploring a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
King argued that while a debate over the NSA programs could be useful, attempts to defund them were dangerous. The House of Representatives narrowly rejected a measure last week that would have stripped funding from a phone monitoring program.
“I thought it was absolutely disgraceful that so many Republicans voted to defund the NSA program, which has done so much to protect our country,” King told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “This is an isolationist streak that's in our party. It goes totally against the party of Eisenhower, and Reagan, Bush. I mean, we are a party of national defense. We're a party who did so much to protect the country over the last 12 years.”
Last week, Christie slammed libertarian-minded Republicans who have questioned the NSA spying programs, including Paul. Speaking on a panel for Republican governors, Christie urged caution when discussing ways to revamp U.S. security.
And he argued that those opposed to the government spying programs should talk first to families of loved ones who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and orphans and have that conversation," Christie said. "And they won't. That's a lot tougher conversation to have."
Responding to King's comments Sunday, a senior adviser to Paul wrote the Kentucky Republican "believes national defense is the most important job of the federal government."
"Senator Paul wants to come home from nation building sooner so we have more money for the actual defense of our country," Doug Stafford continued. "Peter King wants to build bridges in Afghanistan instead of at home. He wants us endlessly patrolling the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of ours at home."
Rand Paul is like McGovern? Obviously further proof of hard drug use among Republicans. When ANY Republican endorses and passes something that helps the poor, the sick or the elderly in America instead of the laws they currently pass, they might his square one on the road to McGovern. Until that time the whole lot of them, including Mr. Paul are far more likely to be compared to Marie Antoinette.
This coming from one of the most McCarthy-esque person in congress. I don't care for either or them, this is like Jersery Shore-Congress Style. Snooki King said what?!?
George McGovern volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces upon the country's entry into World War II and as a B-24 Liberator pilot flew 35 missions over German-occupied Europe. Among the medals bestowed upon him was a Distinguished Flying Cross for making a hazardous emergency landing of his damaged plane and saving his crew.
Rep. Peter King stayed home in the safety of the New York National Guard during the Vietnam war and never went to Vietnam or saw any action at all.
Rand Paul has never served in the military or even had an ROTC class.
There is no comparison when it comes to who was the true American patriot.
George McGovern is a giant among dwarfs in this trio.
Georeg McGovern? Rand Paul seems more like a latter day George Wallace.
Peter King is one of the oppressive people in government. No threat is too small for Peter King to use to scare people and incite fear over the evil Muslims.
Peter King needs to get realistic and stop being a sound byte generator.
Springtime for Randy,
The Republicans basically can't stand the fact a libertarian has taken the lead in their party.
Peter King and Rand Paul are both nut jobs that look more like there dogs then most cartoons .
Miniature Schnauzer / Peter KIng
Standard Poodle / Rand Paul
King And Paul are posturing for the white house .
They are both nut jobs
Obviously, King, like McCain, is all for a strong defense. So is Senator Paul. Somewhere we as a people lost our moral high ground. Paul would like to see us get it back. There is nothing wrong with that.
On Crowley's show, King referred to Paul as someone from the fringes. How convenient to dismiss someone of good moral character who wants to ensure that we have a strong defense but not at the expense of liberty and freedom.
Rep King is dead wrong to smear the legacy of George McGovern. George McGovern was a populist visionary who believed in peace, social, and economic justice.
Rand Paul's has become everybody's item for the trash can. His negativities are on every part of any issue. Peter King is his Repub colleague. What else would one expect from two like-minded colleagues on issues than waste-bound disparages. The Repub party sure knows how to pick them.
McGovern was a war hero and humanitarian. Rand Paul is an opportunistic parasite.
McGovern was RIGHT on Viet Nam! On politics or policy RP has never been right.
@Iam Thatiam, well said.
Lite paul is the one who would not have voted for civil rights in the 60s. How dare anyone tell him or anyone who they should serve (meaning, if you are not white I don't have to allow you access to my business).
Keep it up King...you are making Rand Paul look very very good to people that value their freedom,privacy and are sick and tired of all the fake wars.
The Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty eating each other again. I have my popcorn.
Only in the GOP, where one looney says the other one is a looney. The Republican elevator never reaches the top floor.
Mmm... I hate to agree with King, but I think that Paul is going too far in supporting Snowden. Regardless of his motivations, what he did was ethically wrong and a criminal act, regardless of how he chooses to see it. Someone who deliberately provides material for foreign nations to use against his home nation and refuses to stay and face the consequences has no moral leg to stand on, regardless of his motivations. If he'd stayed in the US and accepted being taken to trial for his actions rather than running away, I might have felt like forgiving him, but he chose the coward's way out. Where I might have once supported pardoning him, I think it would be best if he spent the rest of his life in prison for what he did. No individual has the right to endanger the entire nation for the sake of his principles.
Sure, Rand Paul is like McGovern and Peter King is the new Joe McCarthy. King needs to go. His constituents need to wake up and realize that this is a very dangerous man.
How can paul talk about mlk when he said we should never have a civil war