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. dsangiovanni

    They do not have a chance....CLINTON–WARREN 2016-2024 !! 8 YEARS ONLY !!....ENOUGH TO GET RID OFF GOP

    July 14, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Bill Davis

    Perry is making it clear should he get elected WAR....

    July 14, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. John Hurd

    Please, without his advisors, Perry wouldn't even know what "foreign policy" means. This guy is the poster child for limitless ambition. Paul is just as bad, a little brighter but more focused on selfishness.

    July 14, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    -none of these current GOP junk worth talking point. Know it. They administer color, race, etc garbage. They don't care immigration issue, nor infrastructure nor green energy. Pathetic.

    July 14, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. S.B. Stein

    I somehow doubt that Regan would accept either characterization by either Perry or Paul. Perry is too much of a hawk to understand that a shooting war isn't what you want. Paul is too much of a believer that people will follow his faulty logic and do as he suggests. Neither are real good options for being president assuming that they run for the GOP nomination.

    July 14, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Matt S

    They should both jump into a hole

    July 14, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "The Iraqis didn't ask us to leave. "

    They sure did. Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008 that mandated that we remove our troops. Iraq's Al-Maliki wanted nothing to do with negotiating for us to stay longer and wouldn't consider it at all. There was no "cut and run" about it. Iraq is now enjoying the fruits of Maliki's refusal to negotiate and compromise.

    Perhaps there's a lesson in there regarding the "never negotiate, never compromise" RWNJ absolutist ideologues and those who support them.

    July 14, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. Longtimer

    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.
    How many nations did Obama invade by accident? I suspect if you ask the more than 100,000 dead Iraqis, they'd tell you Bush was a failure, not Obama.

    July 14, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Gene2

    Much like when you put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig, you can put glasses on Perry and he's still an idiot.

    July 14, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. American Worker

    Campaigns that use the superficial is getting old.

    July 14, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. MacNCheese


    Rick Perry + BOGO glasses = Hilarious!!

    Hillary 2016 BABY!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Vijay

    Rand Paul is my guy.

    July 14, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. rembrant

    The clown show gets better every day.

    July 14, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Longtimer

    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?
    Republicans LOVE sending other kids in to battle instead of their own- but look at the record. Mr. Cheney- 5 deferments and he was one of the biggest architects of the war in Iraq. Romney? Bravely protected America during Vietnam trying to convert the French to Mormonism. Bush- in the ROTC in Georgia working on a Congressman's re-election (War IS Hell) after learning to fly a plane being decommissioned (Mission Accomplished!).
    Don't worry these Hawks will make war at the first chance they get- and yeah it will be YOUR sons and daughters in some foreign wasteland without the right supplies or weapons, for tour after tour after tour. Not theirs.

    July 14, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. I AM

    The two ‘bottom of the barrell’ politicians a duking it out to see who will lose by the largest majority in the upcoming elections.

    July 14, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. JoJo

    In my opinion, the fundamental problem with the War in Iraq is that it was UNNECESSARY (whether they had WMD or not). War must be necessary to be morally justified. This is what Ron Paul said in 2003 and is what he says today. Even Cheney said during the first Persian Gulf War that going into Iraq would cause destabilization and a vicious fight between Sunni, Shiites & Kurds unless we stayed there forever. Then Cheney became "financially interested" in war via Halliburton and "changed his mind".

    July 14, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. tom l

    Perhaps there's a lesson in there regarding the "never negotiate, never compromise" RWNJ absolutist ideologues and those who support them.

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

    July 14, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Rosslaw

    A battle of wits between Paul and Perry and both sides are firing blanks. Perry, like all right-wingers with a total contempt for history and reality, cites Reagan while forgetting his foray into Lebanon resulted in 241 Marines killed by a single truck bomber, after which the US ran out of Lebanon within a week like a scalded dog. I won't bother with Reagan's selling high tech arms to the Iranians. Or poison gas to Saddam Hussein. The Middle East has never treated right-wingers who are convinced of how tough and savvy they are very gently.

    July 14, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Ol' Yeller

    Some clarification:
    "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,"
    Uh, 'your policy papers'... I noticed he didn"t include 'that I wrote'... because he likely plagiarized them like he has done so many other things. Trust this idealogical waffler at your own peril.

    "Viewed together, Obama's policies have certainly led us to this dangerous point in Iraq and Syria..."
    Yes, viewed together with your head tilted a little to the left and your eye crossed (with your new glasses askew) and taking into consideration the lying er, talking points, er, made up 'facts' er, whatever... it is Presdient Obama's fault (just like everything else). What a tool! This guy runs again and even gets one vote it just shows you how desparate the gop really is.

    "his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity."

    And you conveniently omit reagan sold arms to the contras to obtain the release of the hostages and just barely dodged being impeached by throwing his staff under the bus, much like bush/cheney did with scooter libby to protect themselves.

    I do love this though... the republicants are already tearing at each other in their own ambitious desires (aka- dreams) to become President, when they have lnomne to zero chance of winning... especially these two losers.
    But tear away... I'll pop some popcorn!

    July 14, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. ItSoNlYmE

    Watching the GOP/tea party rip itself to shreds over the next 28 months is going to be very entertaining.

    July 14, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. Gurgyl

    -bush, and Reagan were both FAILURE, NOT OBAMA.truth. I glad glad no war for the last six years, no casualty either. More so now you are not denied your Healthcare. Know it. Yes, we need stringent immigration, stringent Tax on non-profit organizations.

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


    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."

    July 14, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. Justin

    Perry wont win with the war attitude. Hillary wont win because she is very fond of war too.

    I think Paul is the best chance. More libertarian than conservative, which will appeal to independents.


    July 14, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. g

    Republicans owned and operated by Americas ruling families

    July 14, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. Justin

    I am not sure how the avidly antiwar progressives would ever back Hillary Clinton.

    Just like the ultraright war hawks in the GOP wont back Paul.

    July 14, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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