July 14th, 2014
10:13 AM ET
4 months ago

Perry vs. Paul: Round two

(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

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Filed under: 2016 • Iraq • Rand Paul • Rick Perry
soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. vidal808

    Both are ignorant of any foreign policy. The only thing they have is a bunch of people around them giving the advice that is most politicly favorable to the base. I would be surprised to hear if either one of them knows the difference between Switzerland and Sweden.

    July 14, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. calvin

    Paul is poking fun of Perry's glasses ? Maybe we should ask Paul when he's going to get a dipstick to check the oil in his awful hair.

    July 14, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. ZweiStein

    So much talk. Perry already proved that he's not anyone's choice. And Rand?? Well, I like a lot of things about Rand, maybe he'll show us some action vs. words by spear-heading a REAL initiative to help our disabled vets, not just some run of the mill election year rhetoric.

    July 14, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Ol' Yeller

    "Ummm, the common denominator between the "never negotiate" is not the RWNJ; it's the president."

    Say it again and again. Shout it from the rooftops... do whatever it is you rwnj's do to convince yourselves up is down and sideways is under and over... a lie is a lie is a lie.
    I guess you are little torn here trying to decide who to support between the intellectual giant of the gop and your hero/savior paul... so you'll just attack the President.
    I just love the way you think everybody will just buy your spin (aka- lies) because you are sooo intellectually superior to everyone else... you are just like perry. Show your ignorance daily, week in and week out, but still expect people to take you seriously. Bet you even got you some of those coool 'smart' glasses like him (and a curly hairpiece like paul).
    I've got to go buy some more popcorn!

    July 14, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Bill from Long Island

    Anyone who thinks Rand Paul is an isolationist hasn't been paying attention to the things Rand Paul has been saying. Just because you're not the playground bully, doesn't mean you can't have friends.

    July 14, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Bruce Harris

    The once real political party called the GOP has morphed into a slab of pure baloney.
    Perry thinks wearing glasses makes him look smarter. Paul thinks wearing jenes makes him, I don't know, like a short guy who thinks he's Bob Dylan?

    Neither of these guys has the chops to hold their present office let alone anything higher.

    July 14, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Gary

    "Perry vs. Paul: Round two"
    This should be over soon. Everyone knows Perry won't remember what round 3 is.

    July 14, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. kool aid man

    Right Obama is the reason we can't form a coalition, your delusional, I'm sure it had nothing to do with their countries men and women dying, based on lies from your God George w, you just can't think straight can you, they suffred the same results we did, dying to make dick,George, and company very rich.

    July 14, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. thomas

    Perry and Paul, even being TALKED about, demonstrate the pathetic state of the GOP.

    Ridiculousness in Perry; extremism in Paul. All very encouraging for Democrats!

    July 14, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. SallyLu

    As much as I dislike Rand (and Perry too, for that matter), I have to agree with him on this point.

    July 14, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Jody P

    Fight nice now children. True leaders.

    July 14, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Big_D

    Perry is correct about one thing. Libertarians have a lot more in common with Obama than the rest of the GOP. LIbertarians and liberals both believe in liberty, it's just the level that is different.

    July 14, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Big_D

    Perry thinks rich people and corporations should be free and safe. Obama thinks all Americans should be free and safe. Paul thinks everyone should be free. It's all perspective.

    July 14, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    July 14, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am
    “Ummm, the common denominator between the “never negotiate” is not the RWNJ; it’s the president.”

    Say it again and again. Shout it from the rooftops… do whatever it is you rwnj’s do to convince yourselves up is down and sideways is under and over… a lie is a lie is a lie.
    I guess you are little torn here trying to decide who to support between the intellectual giant of the gop and your hero/savior paul… so you’ll just attack the President.
    I just love the way you think everybody will just buy your spin (aka- lies) because you are sooo intellectually superior to everyone else… you are just like perry. Show your ignorance daily, week in and week out, but still expect people to take you seriously. Bet you even got you some of those coool ‘smart’ glasses like him (and a curly hairpiece like paul).
    I’ve got to go buy some more popcorn!

    Ol' Yeller 👏👏❤️👏👏❤️❤️!!!!

    July 14, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. peterz

    It looked the "conservatives" GOP approach was transforming the GOP party more into the cartoon party after 5 yrs. It was hurting the image of American politician in general. including the Dems.

    July 14, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. tom l

    Ol' Yeller

    "Ummm, the common denominator between the "never negotiate" is not the RWNJ; it's the president."

    Say it again and again. Shout it from the rooftops... do whatever it is you rwnj's do to convince yourselves up is down and sideways is under and over... a lie is a lie is a lie.
    I guess you are little torn here trying to decide who to support between the intellectual giant of the gop and your hero/savior paul... so you'll just attack the President.
    I just love the way you think everybody will just buy your spin (aka- lies) because you are sooo intellectually superior to everyone else... you are just like perry. Show your ignorance daily, week in and week out, but still expect people to take you seriously. Bet you even got you some of those coool 'smart' glasses like him (and a curly hairpiece like paul).
    I've got to go buy some more popcorn!
    ======

    I'm very nervous to respond to you because I might get threatened by you again with physical violence. I will say that your entire diatribe didn't really cover the fact that it's the dems that say that the RWNJ won't negotiate and it's the dems saying that Maliki won't negotiate. I just merely pointed out that in both instances it was Obama that was the common factor. Oh, and I don't look at politicians as heroes or saviors, it's dems such as yourself that look at politicians as heroes and saviors.

    July 14, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. greg

    Perry is trying to look "smart" with his new glasses but glasses can only do so much. Fortunately for Perry, running for governor in Texas for many years running doesn't require much language skills or the ability to carry on intelligent discourse since so many people for R (if they vote at all, Texas competing for dead last in participation, a deliberate legacy of Republicans in the state). Unfortunately for Perry, the same doesn't hold true on the national stage.

    July 14, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Jarhead4life

    Here we go again. The republicans will shred each other during the primaries leaving the party looking like road kill and the sleazy democrats will walk away with another election victory. There is no republican party anymore, just a bunch of self centered idiots solely out for themselves and not the good of the party.

    July 14, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Ronnie was a RINO!

    If one of these two are the best the Republicans can come up with I'll have to hold my nose and vote Democrat yet again.

    July 14, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Ummm, the common denominator between the "never negotiate" is not the RWNJ; it's the president.
    ===

    Seeing as how he's the person with whom they swore never to negotiate or compromise, well, duh.

    July 14, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. rufus

    What Perry does not understand is that our meddling in countries halfway around the world has INCREASED the risks to the US.

    July 14, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. clouseau2

    It's scary that either of these actually has a shot at being President. One is mentally challenged and the other a foaming at the mouth ideologue. I didn't want Mitt Romney as President, but at least I wouldn't have lost sleep over it if he had.

    July 14, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Ten

    Like I want to vote for someone snarky enough to talk about someone's physical characteristics as a metaphor. Hey, Rand Paul, I thought you were an intellectual. Or are you dumbing it down for average Americans?!!! Please talk about facts. I don't vote for anyone who uses personal attacks. I'm OVER those politics...

    July 14, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. knucklehead

    You can recognize a threat without going to war, for God's sake.

    July 14, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. knucklehead

    Turning in our badge as the world's cop might be worth whatever crap Mr. Paul puts us through domestically....

    July 14, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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