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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An unlikely political duo: Sens. Rand Paul and Cory Booker

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

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

    July 14, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. ted

    typical of why nothing gets done with our politicians these days. they argue and argue and pick on each other and do one upmanship in obfuscation, but never move the ball forward.

    July 14, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Jules

    God help us all if Perry wins in 2016. He's just like George W Bush except not as smart and fanatically religious.

    July 14, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Loathstheright

    Paul and Perry are two of must unqualified twits that should not every been in charge of anything.

    July 14, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Longtimer

    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.
    The art of negotiation requires two parties to act. The President negotiated plenty with Republicans. A little looking shows not only do they not keep their word, the require capitulation. Proof: See "government shutdown".

    July 14, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Terry b

    Paul is articulate and intelligent. Two things that perry seems to be devoid in.

    July 14, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. ChristopherM

    If I were a Republican and had these guys in my clown car for 2016, I think I'd change my registration to Whig. It would be more relevant.

    July 14, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Kevin

    Not too big a Paul fan, but he said what we were all thinking. Perry, the fake glasses don't make you look smarter. It takes *remarkable* stupidity to think we'd believe you look smarter with them.

    July 14, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Lolo

    Let's move on. They are both just ignorant when it comes to government. They need to join Sarah on Fox News to fill up their bank accounts, because she sure made plenty. They will get plenty of crazy viewers to believe their nonsense on Fox.

    July 14, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Billy

    Like Senorita Palin, Perry prefers to "wing it" for debates, and thereby look like a clown after the evil MSM are through ripping him apart like a cheap chicken dinner. If you go before the MSM, you've got to be prepared for their evil attacks. That's their whole aim in life, to battle the forces of good. They're brainwashed so such an extend, they wouldn't know they've ended up in Hades were it not for the heat. Paul is an atheist; all "libertarians" are. A libertarian is a liberal Dim that believes in gun rights. Other than that, they are godless Dims. Leftivism has never worked, is not working now, and will never work, because the Almighty will not allow anything godless to prosper. You can't get this through to leftist dullards, so unfortunately, they'll finally get in on J-Day, when, of course, it won't do them any good at that point. Senator Cruz is a believer, plus a champion Harvard debater and conservative. He's not afraid of the empty suit leftists on the other side, and since the average person doesn't keep up with the issues, but rather, and stupidly, depends exclusively on debate performances to "instruct" them who is best based on who won the shouting match, Sen Cruz will crush those inferior weaklings on the other side. I don't watch debates, as I'm already educated on the issues, but I'll watch that one, just to see him demolish the Dimwit dullards. Newt Gingrich, eat your heart out; if only he could have debated PBO; but Cruz is better than Gingrich; at least we don't have to worry about who the next mistress will be...

    July 14, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Bee

    I am beyond PO by most politicians ...Our beautiful country is freaking falling apart and all they care about is money, power and their political standing! I am SO DISUBY ALL OF THEM BOTH SIDES!!!!!

    July 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Mary

    I am sure Gov. Perry doesn't even "know" the meaning of the word profound......

    July 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. noneya

    "Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.”
    So funding and training terrorists like Osama Bin Laden is leading the world with morality and startegic clarity?? This is why conservatives shouldnt govern....

    July 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. Bazinga

    Makes him look "smart". Like Sarah Palin 🙂

    July 14, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. timverba

    It seems that both Perry and Paul are making the mistake of separating miltary power from its main purpose – economic power. The reason the United States has such a large military footprint is to secure its economic interests around the world. We are provided "first choice" action, meaning that foreign countries will act upon US issues before other countries, because we are the largest economy but also because we have a military force that assures cooperative action by other countries. However, the ability to police the entire globe requires certain partnerships that were fulfilled by the old Soviet Union prior to 1987. The United States does not have the bandwidth to police the globe alone. This is the challenge that the United States currently faces.

    July 14, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Laurel

    We dems love to see the republicans go after each other and blow their horns – shows what their priorities are and makes them look silly – really – ? dissing someone's glasses? that all ya got? Keep it up – makes the next election easier for us Dems!

    July 14, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Benay Brannon

    If you live in Texas, as I do, you can appreciate Perry for giving us a booming economy. Working in the Health Care industry, no one goes without proper healthcare. Politics aside, Perry does look sexy in those glasses.

    July 14, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Dave

    This is why the Republicans are going to lose, they can't even help but fight with themselves.

    July 14, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Cody

    Hopefully the smear campaigns Republicans run against each other in the primaries will win the White House for a Democrat again in 2016.

    July 14, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Neurotoxin

    Seems to me Paul exposed Perry as flat out lying about Paul's policy proposals, as well as about Reagan's, to make it sound as if Perry's resemble Reagan's; and all Perry's office could do in return was reiterate that same false conclusion. But to CNN, Paul's remark about Perry's glasses appears to have been the centerpiece, whereas last week's attack by Perry actually had policy content in the headline. Thank you for your unbiased reporting; we look forward to destroying every RINO you try to shove down our throats again in 2016.

    July 14, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. marlowefox

    Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) recently crosschecked Governor Rick Perry (R-Tx) in a scathing op-ed. The piece opens up with a personal attack on Perry’s glasses which Paul quips “haven’t [] allowed him to see the world more clearly.” Paul then laments that despite the immigration crisis “he was surprised that Governor Perry has apparently still found time to mischaracterize and attack [Paul’s] foreign policy.” Notwithstanding any judgment on Perry’s ability, Paul’s potshots are self-serving and revisionist. From where exactly Paul’s global insight came a mystery –according to Paul’s website, outside of his political career, he spent 17 years as an ophthalmologist in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In sum, Perry’s position though not supported by any evidence does not warrant Paul’s public flogging. In the same vein, Eric Holder’s castigation of Sarah Palin is nothing more than the Washington blame game. Paul’w letter is brimming with logical fallacies from appeals to the majority to appeals to sympathy. The truth is that though this type of rhetorical finger pointing may work at a campaign stop, but it does not hold up on paper. While Paul represents to some a maverick libertarian, he shows his true colors as a garden variety politician.

    July 14, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Heywood

    Why do you have a picture on this page of two men who can never be elected?

    July 14, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Gargelygoop

    Like either of these two yahoos have a clue on anything. Lets put our politicians into perspective. The problems we face today are a direct result of politicians past, who just for votes, pretended to have a grasp on subjects that effect our nation's well being and yet here we are. Did they really have any idea what they were doing, and if they did, why are the results so unbalanced and for the most part negative. The reality is that these guys are all cut from the same cloth and are just to limited in their mindset and party line motives to actually do anything to correct the pure idiocy that we have been seeing in Washington for the last century.
    Now consider that all it would take for the US dollar to be replaced as a base global reserve is for one catastrophic event occur in our country for the entire thing to completely fall apart. These are the guys that talk about peace and security, yet they don't seem to understand that the financial pyramid that we are currently perched on, and continue to exploit will eventually cause the ruin of this republic, especially if we continue this system as our default solution to all our financial issues. That's problem #1 and not a single politician will touch that issue with a ten foot pole. Just ask them and they will tell you that cans should be kicked, They just won't add the part about down the road or use those words specifically. I'm sure they'll make it sound less significant, and re-direct to something of less importance, while reassuring everyone that they will take a look at that problem. These peoples BS factor is off the chart, both parties, all branches, all the time.

    July 14, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. sly

    America is thriving with President Obama – record stock markets and record deficit reduction. No wars. No foreign terrorist attacks, and health care for 9 million!

    These are good times, and Americans will vote for the Democratic Party which has rescued America.

    Enjoy prosperity and peace, Americans – this only happens about every 40 years! We are lucky. Thank you Mr. President!

    July 14, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. smith

    @Rudy-Calling repubs that didn`t serve without calling out the dems as well is political hypocrisy. What`s matter the truth sting a bit?

    July 14, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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