July 14th, 2014
10:13 AM ET
8 years 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.

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"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. Randall Horton

    Stop pouring our hard-earned tax dollars down the Middle Eastern sinkhole.

    July 14, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. joseph

    Excellent! Keep the infighting going as long as possible and completely destroy your own party.

    July 14, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Sniffit

    What did the myopic ideologue say to the blind moron?

    July 14, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Jerry Teeple

    Neither one of these guys deserve a comment!!

    July 14, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Daniel

    It's disingenuous to assert that Reagan never went to war during his presidency. Paul must have forgotten Grenada which was a proxy war between the US and Cuba.

    July 14, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Longtimer

    No, no civil war in the GOP. Just look at Georgia, Mississippi, and the two mental midgets Paul and Perry. Everything is hunky dory down GOP way.

    July 14, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. ed

    Enough already on this topic. Let's debate Perry's "curiously blind" notion that the universe is only 10,000 yrs old.
    I'll wait.

    July 14, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. Jake from State Farm

    Great Op-Ed. Who wrote it for him?

    July 14, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So, Paul is not willing to send his son to Iraq. That is to be expected. However, is he also unwilling to send the rest of our sons and daughters?
    I do not necessarily consider this to be isolationism, but, in the case of this failed nation, pragmatism. Iraq was functionally broken before we went in and smashed what was left. We created a power vacuum by de-Baathification of everything. This had the same negative effect that De-Nazification had in post WW2 Germany – many of the people in positions of authority (power companies, railroads, sewer companies) did not join the Party out of any loyalty, but to keep their jobs and not have them turned over to a know-nothing political hack. That is exactly what happened in Iraq, though. We turned jobs over to know-nothing political hacks whose only qualifications were they had not been members of the Ba'ath party.
    While I applaud the concern Perry shows for the problems of Iraq (while he ignores the same problems on his own borders), neither he nor Paul are looking at things from a broad perspective.

    July 14, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Mike James

    He's trying to look intellectual, he heard people who wear glasses look like nerds.

    July 14, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    "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.
    Ronald Reagan also tripled the national debt and increased the annual deficit by a factor of ten. If we enacted those Republican policies today, and don't forget that George W. Bush tried to do it, too, we would see an annual deficit of $3 trillion and a national debt close to $30 trillion.

    July 14, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. David

    CNN is doing their best to make Paul come off as childish by picking on Perry's glasses when what he actually was addressing was Perry's views on things. The glasses were just used as a metaphor to dismiss Perry's political views.

    July 14, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. it must be said

    Randall Horton
    Stop pouring our hard-earned tax dollars down the Middle Eastern sinkhole.

    Didn't you see the story last week about the federal government mispayments of $106 BILLION last year and that wasn't the real total because all agencies hadn't reported. Our hard earned tax dollars are wasted and mismanaged without a care in the world because it isn't their money and they know they can just keep taking more and more no matter how much is wasted.

    July 14, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. JohnRJohnson

    A battle of mental midgets struggling to get media coverage. It's hilarious.

    July 14, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Perry probably can't name the capital of Germany.

    July 14, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  16. Queen Amadela

    Does anyone know if Perry actually finished high school or was simply granted a GED? And why are Texans so stupid? I'm curious.

    July 14, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. Open2most

    "Stop pouring our hard-earned tax dollars down the Middle Eastern sinkhole." Yea! Let's pour them down the welfare hole! And then wait a few years for the world to implode. Let's face it folks, while the US has many problems and bad decisions behind it, we're still the only thing standing between really bad people and their success.

    July 14, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. mike

    The GOP primaries are shaping up to be a bigger clown car than in 2012.

    July 14, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. jhonnyausemkock

    We had no right to go in there in the first place. That was the biggest military blunder we've committed since Vietnam. But it's done. We can't change it now. What we CAN do – SHOULD do – is work with the locals to start fixing it again on their terms. If they want our help with security, we owe it to them at this point. We have to make that sacrifice. We made the mess, after all. If not, we owe it to them to back off. Empty excuses and political posturing are not appropriate for this situation form anyone involved. The Iraqis didn't ask us to leave. We simply had issues with the political terms of our presence, and our "fearless" Commander in Chief took the opportunity to cut and run. He campaigned about how wrong it was for us to make such a mess in the Middle East, but NOW he says it's "an Iraqi problem"? Does anyone take this cheap fly-by-night conman seriously anymore?

    July 14, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. works4me

    I love when they eat their own! Keep it up... boys!

    July 14, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. just asking

    at least republicans are talking about foreign policy and having a debate. obama has made a shambles of our foreign policy and nobody trusts him one bit. our enemies know he's a completely empty suit., mr. meaningless red line.

    July 14, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. DarkPoet

    Perry is a known racist........ Paul isn't like his father.......... but the GOP needs to realize that Paul is a better leader than Perry and if they continue to back Perry they will only be backing racism.

    July 14, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Jeff Cohee

    If politicians and candidates for public office would spend more time talking about themselves (their experience, skills and positions on issues) rather than casting aspersions on their rivals, voters would be more informed and hopefully make better choices at the polls. But no, we all have to sort through the nonsense and the rhetoric of contorted accusations, criticisms and even outright lies to find a kernel of substance and truth on which to base our decisions. It's no wonder we have so many unqualified people in public office.

    July 14, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  24. Pete/Ark

    I always encourage my Republican friends ... " let's you and him fight "

    July 14, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. BUD

    They created the problem by hiring illegals by the thousands and now want the feds to fix it.

    July 14, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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