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. Ol' Yeller

    "I'm very nervous to respond to you because I might get threatened by you again with physical violence. "

    I never threatened you with physical violence, I just posted I would like to see you call me 'Boy ' to my face, like you did on here. You weren't 'nervous' when you were calling me 'boy', so I believe you are just being your usual intellectually dishonest self by claiming to be nervous now. You were awful brave then... what happened? (I know... it is your way of - all together now-- "Playing the Victim!")

    You never disappoint me on that front tom I.
    So predictable.

    July 14, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. scott

    it looks like a lot of people talking the but not walking the walk if perry want to send more troops over there he should be the first to instead of sending someone eles who don't want to go

    July 14, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Hillary

    Peter Paul and Perry. A blowin in the wind.

    July 14, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. kool aid man

    Plenty, lmao, someone had to say it.

    July 14, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Name

    Mr.Perry how do you propose to pay for your military interventions? NO MORE UNFUNDED WARS PLEASE!

    July 14, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    –so, you have to serve in the Army in order to be a POTUS? What knit of rubbish. Bush served and looted on Haliburton, where is WMD? Nonsense talker of typical republican idiot.

    July 14, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Smarter than ewe

    I clicked on this thinking it was Ru Paul offering some fashion insight.

    July 14, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Libacrytical

    Rand Paul is the way of the future... we can either keep voting in the "lessor of 2 evils" and keep the 2 party duopoly, or get a REAL Libertarian in there (even though Rand will probably run as a Republican).

    We cannot keep going back & forth between the D & the R – that's why we have the mess we are in, as NEITHER party has our best interests at heart!!

    Oh, and there is a HUGE difference between being "non-interventionist" versus "isolationist" – Perry is trying to miscategorize Paul's stance on foreign policy!!!

    July 14, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. J Anthony

    When will any of these people start addressing relevant issues with productive ideas? Sounds like never.

    July 14, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. mnati

    Like it or not we are the worlds policeman. And now more than ever before we need to be! With the easy travel between counties and the terrorist that want to do harm to us we cannot let these people who hate us set up strong holds and bases. If we do not stop them 911 type attacks can and will happen again. So will cannot isolate because that is the most dangerous thing we can do.

    July 14, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. JAB

    I love it when repubs fight with each other. Especially when one is a mental lightweight and the other is a physical lightweight. Ding ding ding....round 3...cage match time!

    July 14, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    A battle of wits between unarmed opponents. I heard both Perry's and Paul's foreign policy papers weren't finished yet: they ran out of crayon.

    July 14, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. George Welch

    The disastrous invasion of Iraq under Bush is what led to the upheaval going on today. Saddam was a brutal dictator but kept Al Queda out of Iraq, and posed no threat to the US. The US Invasion based on flat out lies have led to the deaths of twice as many Americans as 9-11 and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who posed no threat to the US. Now the warmongering neocons want to double down on their lying reasons for involving us in this disaster. The time is long past for the US to dictate how other countries should conduct their lives.

    July 14, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. GOP (Greed over Prozac)

    The glasses are an attempt by Perry to look more intellectual than he is. It still has not corrected his near sightedness on issues.

    July 14, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. Orolandes O'Rourke

    Funny thing. I remember the President working out several agreements with Boener, only to have Congress decide no, and John "I'm an Ommpaloompa" Boener having to renig on the very deal he'd agreed on. That's Not the president refusing to negotiate. That's congress and everyone but the Rethuglicans and their Tea Terrorist allies sees it. And if you don't believe that check Congress' approval ratings. Yeah the president is in the low 40's but congress is in the low 20's.

    July 14, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC


    @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."

    July 14, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Sniffit

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

    It could work though....if he just never said anything ever again.

    July 14, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    tom l, please don't give us the bullcrap about Democrats looking on their leaders as heroes and saviors when you've been extolling the virtues of Rand Paul for at least 2 years. The cult-like devotion you have to him beats most true believers in the GOP camp or the Democrats. I can't remember all the times you've urged people to listen to Paul, and speaking with all the zeal of a convert. Btw, if anyone has threatened you in here, frankly, I'm surprised its taken this long with the personal attacks you engage in, then immediately disavow.

    July 14, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. Karen

    When Hillary Clinton wore glasses, because of the high prescription she needed, she just looked like someone who had bad eyesight and needed to wear glasses. Rick Perry looks like someone who's trying to make himself look intelligent and failing miserably.

    July 14, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. IsntThatSpecial

    They eat their own. How do they expect intelligent voters to take any GOP candidates seriously when they continually in-fight? Validates the obvious that a bi-partisan platform is impossible with them in the bigger picture. They ate their own in 08, 10 and 12 – now 2014 is shaping up to be a repeat clown car show of 2012 – can't wait... (and its only mid-terms – 2016 is going to be a blast). P.S. – Paul is spot-on about Perry's glasses – they don't make the "guvna" smarter

    July 14, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    ""I'm very nervous to respond to you because I might get threatened by you again with physical violence. "

    Cleanup...Diaper 12....someone bring the Desitin, stat!!!!!

    July 14, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. jimmy

    I think if Rand Paul can get Perry to change his glasses then Paul will win the Presidency. Then he can impose regulations which determine the type of glasses we wear.

    Very heads up stuff.

    July 14, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. kiwisepp

    I do not think that we can stick Sunni and Shiite together using blood of American young men. It would not work

    July 14, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. buzzwad26

    I hope Perry runs with Sarah Palin.

    July 14, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Lily

    I will never vote for neither Rick Perry nor Chris Christie. Unfortunately they seem not to be intelligent. I do not want to be led by a man who is less intelligent than I am. They might seem intelligent to GOP or rather to the Tea Party, BUT to the rest of the nation, am afraid to say they are not.

    July 14, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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