(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is firing back at Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, in an escalation of a war of words between two potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders over U.S. foreign policy and the country's role in the bloody outbreak of fighting in Iraq.
"There are many things I like about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, including his stance on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. But apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly," Paul wrote in an op-ed that appeared Monday in Politico, taking aim at the much talked about eye-wear Perry's been sporting since last year.
"There are obviously many important events going on in the world right now, but with 60,000 foreign children streaming across the Texas border, I am surprised Governor Perry has apparently still found time to mischaracterize and attack my foreign policy," added the first-term senator who doesn't want the U.S. to be the world's policeman.
Paul's critics, such as Perry, liken it to outright isolationism.
"Curiously blind" and "wrong" is how Perry described Paul's foreign policy, in an op-ed Friday in the Washington Post.
"Governor Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy so mischaracterizing my views that I wonder if he’s even really read any of my policy papers," Paul fired back on Monday.
Perry criticizes Paul
This latest skirmish between the two men started with Perry's Washington Post op-ed.
"As a veteran, and as a governor who has supported Texas National Guard deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I can understand the emotions behind isolationism. Many people are tired of war, and the urge to pull back is a natural, human reaction," Perry wrote. "Unfortunately, we live in a world where isolationist policies would only endanger our national security even further."
"That's why it's disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what's happening in Iraq."
Three weeks ago, during an interview with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, Paul said: "I'm not willing to send my son into that mess."
"Let's not be involved in the Iraq civil war," Paul said, referring to weeks of violence across that country. Radical Sunni militants have battled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite government forces. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has not only gained ground in northern and western Iraq but also in Syria.
Perry took Paul's sentiments to task.
Noting "the main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world," the governor wrote. ". ...This represents a real threat to our national security - to which Paul seems curiously blind - because any of these passport carriers can simply buy a plane ticket and show up in the United States without even a visa."
Perry then picked apart an opinion piece Paul recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal arguing against U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
Perry wrote that Paul went "so far as to claim...that President Ronald Reagan's own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion," adding that , "his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity."
And in perhaps one of his harshest critiques, Perry lumped Paul together with a favored political enemy of conservatives: President Barack Obama.
"Viewed together, Obama's policies have certainly led us to this dangerous point in Iraq and Syria, but Paul's brand of isolationism (or whatever term he prefers) would compound the threat of terrorism even further," Perry wrote.
The longtime Texas governor is not running for re-election this year. Instead, recent moves and a higher public profile by Perry appear to be indicators that he will make a second run for the GOP presidential nomination. Perry's 2012 bid started strong, but thanks to a number of well publicized stumbles, his campaign crashed and burned.
Paul fires back
Paul responded to that in his op-ed Monday, writing, "some of Perry’s solutions for the current chaos in Iraq aren’t much different from what I’ve proposed, something he fails to mention. His solutions also aren’t much different from President Barack Obama’s, something he also fails to mention. Because interestingly enough, there aren’t that many good choices right now in dealing with this situation in Iraq."
And Paul wrote that Perry, along with many other Republicans, have misread Reagan's "peace through strength" doctrine.
"Strength does not always mean war. Reagan ended the Cold War without going to war with Russia. He achieved a relative peace with the Soviet Union-the greatest existential threat to the United States in our history-through strong diplomacy and moral leadership," Paul wrote.
"Reagan had no easy options either. But he did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. Some of Reagan’s Republican champions today praise his rhetoric but forget his actions. Reagan was stern, but he wasn’t stupid. Reagan hated war, particularly the specter of nuclear war. Unlike his more hawkish critics-and there were many-Reagan was always thoughtful and cautious."
Paul, the son of three-time presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, is considered one of the frontrunners right now among the potential 2016 GOP White House hopefuls. While he's popular among many in the party's base, he also appears to enjoy some support from younger voters as he tries increase Republican Party outreach to groups that historically favor the Democratic Party.
A few hours after Paul's op-ed was posted, Perry's office responded.
"Gov. Perry understands that the interconnected world we live in has grown profoundly more dangerous over the last eight years. The American people know well the terrible price our nation has paid as the guarantors of peace and security in the world, but this is no time to turn from the internationalist traditions of Eisenhower and Reagan. Taking the wrong path would mean passing along a world even more dangerous and less secure than the one we live in today," said Perry spokesman Travis Considine.
Paul vs. Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in Monday on the Paul-Perry feud over Iraq. Paul, a critic of the former vice president, said last month that Cheney and former President George W. Bush should shoulder more of the blame than Obama for the new unrest in Iraq. Cheney fired back, calling Paul "an isolationist"
Monday, in an interview with Politico's Mike Allen, Cheney refused to take sides in the tiff between Paul and Perry, saying "I don’t plan today to endorse any candidates for president."
But the former vice president went on to say that "one of my great concerns is that we’ve gotten to the point where, within our own party, we have sort of an isolationist strain developing."
Cheney said that anyone who believes the U.S. can retreat from the international stage after 9/11 is misguided, adding that "I think isolationism is crazy."
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN's Shannon Travis contributed to this story
Is the immigration crisis Perry's ticket to political redemption?
An unlikely political duo: Sens. Rand Paul and Cory Booker
Rick Perry is a dud and Paul is some kind of aberrant. Which rock did these guys crawl out from under? I mean, think about it: Have you ever in your life met any real people like these 2 guys?
LOL, the GOP are eating their own and get ill from it.
Our "internationalist record" in Central and South America made us really popular there, didn't it, Mr. Perry?
At least Rand isn't just going to stick with the status quo. Our interventionism is what got us into all this mess and it's only going to dig us deeper unless challenged.
People in Texas are saying that Perry's odd choice in eyewear means he's gone gay. Among them, a sizeable minority believes that Perry had "the gay" to begin with!
Rand Paul is unelectable due to his stand on wanting to give Amnesty to the illegals. So just another chamber of commerce republican. If the GOP is stupid enough to put him forward as candidate the Dems can look forward to another easy run into the White House in 2016
ekim-That's wonderfully accurate-I couldn't agree more!
Do I see Rand Paul running for President and already going after an opponent?
Both of them are terribad. Why can't we have more politicians like Ron Paul?
It would be really nice to see or politicians acting like grownups instead of 5 year olds honestly, i am so damned fed up with all of them.
Well we know Gov. Perry picked a hot pair of frames for his new glasses, everyone has to make a comment about them when they want to put him down. They suit him, live with it.
Regan was the only sitting president with Old-timers disease. He was an empty shoe box in the oval office.
Paul vs. Perry. No matter who wins, we lose.
If Perry and his stylist think trading in the gingham shirts and jeans for dark suits and new eyeglasses will get him elected President, they are crazy. He isn't Presidential material and when he finds out that the lax conflict of interest laws he has enjoyed in Texas don't apply to the Presidency he probabaly won't want the job. Betcha he'll have a book coming out. Paul is a twerp, but he's a lot smarter than Perry.
Rand Paul can't really be a Republican. To begin with, he's too smart. Then, you notice that he ACTUALLY reads the bills that are up for voting, and he single-handedly stops those that he feels aren't right. Now, I'm not saying I agree with him about which bills should be passed or not, I'm just saying that he READS them. He's alone in that category, and he has the nutz to hold off the entire Senate, by himself, until things are made right. He is a refreshing breath of air in that stuffiest of all places, the U.S. Congress! So, if it must be a Republican, I'd go with Rand.
What happin on cnn. tonight
Perry has systematically destroyed education inTexas...who in their right mind would want as president of our country? That would be a big mistake.
I can't stand most politicians on the left or right. I don't really see a major difference in the parties as they both massively spend money on credit and seem to perpetuate career politicians. The only politician that still peaks my interest based soley on his intellect and ideas for the future is Ron Paul.
@longtimer-Let`s see, Clinton no service during Veitnam. Same goes for Biden. Obama didn`t serve and currently in congress less than 1% of Democrats have served in the military( GOP at 29%, not much better). Currently both parties have a poor record of service in the military.
Let's see now. Right wing playbook, page 21, General Order 177,
"When you have no legitimate argument to make, go for the bait and switch. Change the subject to a manufactured argument that you know that you can win."
To be fair, Smith is correct on his general observation. The problem is everyone on the Right is always selecting "War" on their foreign affairs pop quiz as their first/best answer. The Left generally, and our esteemed President take a more thoughtful approach that has been shown to be more productive, cheaper and less deadly.
I never said that "smith" was wrong. I said that "smith" is trying to manufacture a straw man argument, one which he feels that he can win and is decisively off-topic.
Haven't you ever heard of the "bait and switch", as it applies to debating? Politicians do it all of the time. It comes in two basic flavors, but both involve changing the subject from one that is a loser for you to one that is a winner. If the right wing cannot inspire their base against President Obama's policies, then the right will distract their gaze towards something that will inspire them: shoe me a birth certificate; he's a secret Muslim; he's a liar; scandal after scandal. "Tom" makes very transparent attempts at it all of the time. I feel I should call him out. It's only fair.