Washington (CNN) - In the Republican-versus-Republican foreign policy feud between Rick Perry and Rand Paul, whose side does John McCain pick? The Arizona senator is not interested in stepping into the political crossfire. But that does not mean he won't offer a lecture.
"Sen. Paul is part of a wing of the party that's been there ever since, prior to World War 1, in our Republican Party. And that is a withdrawal to fortress America," McCain told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "I do believe that the things we're seeing in the world today - in greater turmoil than any time in my lifetime - is a direct result of an absence of American leadership.
"We are paying a very, very heavy price now, and we will in the future until we decide to understand that America [has] an essential role in maintaining peace and stability throughout the world."
McCain was asked about the fresh spat between Perry, the Texas governor, and Paul, the Kentucky senator. The feud erupted over the weekend after Perry penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post blasting Paul's "isolationist polices" as "curiously blind" and "wrong." Firing back, a Paul adviser said Perry was "mischaracterizing" the senator's foreign policy views. The adviser said Paul prefers for the United States to avoid engaging in many hotspots across the world.
Do Paul's preferences make him an isolationist?
"I think he has a view of America's role that is far different from mine in the world," McCain said. "And I understand also his appeal to many Americans who are very weary of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and others."