July 14th, 2014
10:13 AM ET
1 month 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. Adam

    Rand Paul would legitimately change this country for the better. He'll follow through with actions where Obama was simply a lot of big talk.

    July 14, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Alex

    There is a serious debate going on about foreign policy, with warmongering neoclowns staging cheap side attacks through dufuses and nobodies like Perry on Rand Paul.
    Cartoon News Network picks one glimpse of one sentence – about glasses – for article heading. So that 90% of CNN readers (not the brightest crowd...) think the debate is about glasses.

    July 14, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. kool aid man

    Love the attempt to suggest letting the Republicans decide the policies, we will have the usual gop economy. Which was so good, record profits for banks and military contract companies, George and dick, getting richer by the day, that was just what we need now. And let's not forget all the jobs those policies ended up with, losing seven eight nine hundred thousand jobs a month ah the. good ole days

    July 14, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Arthur

    Applying that same logic to Rand Paul, one could conclude his thoughts are a tangled mess just like his hair

    July 14, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Squiggs

    These guys are a joke. There is nothing serious about them at all

    July 14, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. Greg In Arkansas

    Too funny....two politicians fighting over a second place finish in the 2016 Presidential election...

    July 14, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. cg

    This party is not together,
    This is the United States of America
    The Almighty dollar is king
    Everyman for himself
    God for us all.
    enough said

    July 14, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. J Perez

    Tow potential candidates that cannot be taken seriously with all this childish snipping back and forth.

    Perry is to stupid to be President and Paul's philosophies will never jive with the majority of Americans especially in the he must capture to win an election.

    July 14, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Patriot

    Rick Perry's new glasses are a cynical attempt by that cheap politician to try to make himself look "brainy." Senator Paul, on the other hand, is quite correct in his "view" of what our foreign policy should be.

    July 14, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Another DemoCrap

    As potential Repelicans (sp) neither are outstanding representatives that even begin to show that they are presidential materials. Like pelicans, they don't seem to now how to fly their own course, with a direction that has one simple message,,"Fix Government".

    July 14, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. smith

    @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.

    July 14, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Uh-huh...
    This reminds me of that joke:
    "Two losers walk into a bar..."

    July 14, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. plenty

    Special glasses for a special person.

    July 14, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. GreyMan

    Well, Ten won't be voting this year.

    I want to see a Clinton vs. Paul matchup in 2016. That would be a good event.

    July 14, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. freeme10

    I just love how all a republican candidate thinks that all he has to do to look intelligent is to start wearing thick rimmed glasses, you know, like they do in cartoons.

    July 14, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Jay

    Rand is the man.

    July 14, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Dennis L M

    J Perez – don't underestimate stupid. Just look at the last President we had from Texas. Perry is trying to use the same game plan, lets hope it doesn't work this time.

    July 14, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. bspurloc

    rick perry doesnt need to campaign, just hold more prayer vigils...
    get religion out of politics already. mystic fairies have no place in modern society

    July 14, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Virginia

    None of those repubs will keep us out of a war if elected. With McCain (won't he ever go away?) and Cheney pushing, we will be in a war with someone all the time.

    July 14, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. Jim

    Rand Paul is the best and smartest candidate who represents sanity and common sense

    July 14, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. vikingwoman

    The GOTP continue their inside bickering! You gotta give it to them– they truly excel at this activity! Another they're really superior at is denigrating anything Obama does or says! We have a seriously dysfunctional government, w/politicians more concerned w/jockeying for position & continuing their cushy lifestyle, rather than finding common goals, compromising & moving our country forward! All we have is voting to send a message & it's too bad only 50% of us do it! We get what we put up with!!

    July 14, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Silence DoGood

    "Reagan was stern, but he wasn’t stupid. Reagan hated war, particularly the specter of nuclear war."
    -----------
    I have read about those Reagan years. He did in fact genuinely want to end nuclear threats for the whole world. But he was also a little clueless and lucked-out. He proposed publicly, the missile shield idea ("star wars") before anyone had started any work on it. He scared the Soviets into a massive spending campaign that financially stress their economy. In the end though they over-produced nuclear weapons to offset the imaginary missile shield and almost took us to world war 3. Reagan lucked out on a reckless bluff.

    Perry's foolish threats to the world would get us a new terrorist attack on our soil like during the Bush years.

    July 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Dean

    Two men whom are infinitely more qualified to be president than the clown we now have occupying the White House. May the best man win!

    July 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. excuse my rant

    Rudy NYC
    Sniffit

    What did the myopic ideologue say to the blind moron?
    ---------–
    "If you vote to give me a big tax cut, I might be able give you a job, provided the tax cut is big enough."
    ___________________________________
    If we got rid of referees in football the teams with officiate themselves. Then the owners will have more money to hire more players. It's a win-win.

    July 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. GODZILLA1

    Perry put the glasses on to try to look well-read, articulate and intellectual – it hasn't worked thus far and it NEVER will.

    July 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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