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. Seamus

    Rand Paul says that Rick Perry probably never read his position paper. Pretty funny coming from a guy that probably didn't write his own position paper.

    July 14, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Bobby Dellwood

    It'll take more than a pair or horn-rims to give Perry any presidential gravitas.

    July 14, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC


    @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?
    What are you talking about? Is this another one of your manufactured arguments that you think you can win? I have not made mention of word the first about "serving"? I've stayed on topic, instead of trying to change it to something you're more comfortable with, complete nonsense.

    July 14, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    To paraphrase an old Texas saying, "Perry is all frame and no lenses." I remember when women used to wear glasses to appear smarter. Bet that's where Rick got the idea...

    July 14, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. IronDad

    I'm a solid Democrat.... and I agree with Cheney!!

    The apocalypse is upon us!!

    July 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Tony Manero

    As much as Perry is fodder for political humor and criticism, he and Paul represent the essential positions. If the opposing position is correct, then mine must be wrong, dumb, and dangerous so say people like Cheney, Krauthammer, etc. Good thing Cheney isn't in office and Krauthammer doesn't want to give up a leisure life to serve in public office (something Scalia should have conisdered but re-writing Constitutional jurisprudence is a noble cause) . . . democracy actually works, in the long run.

    July 14, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC


    @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?
    Okay, I'll bite, only because you're making yourself look like a fool. Your worship, Rand Paul, has never served.

    July 14, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Tom l

    Rudy said to smith:

    "Okay, I’ll bite, only because you’re making yourself look like a fool. Your worship, Rand Paul, has never serve"


    More projection of the liberal mindset. I have never seen where smith "worships" rand Paul.

    July 14, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. smith

    @Sly-Guess you forgot about Libya. That was all Obama and our military was actively involved there. Also, I like how you threw in the word "foreign" for the terrorist attacks. I guess that way the Boston Marathon Bombings don`t count. Basically, a load of fodder. Try again.

    July 14, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Detada

    Putting glasses on Perry is like putting lipstick on a pig. It doesn't change a thing.

    July 14, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. carl nelson

    They look just like Palin's glasses.

    July 14, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. smith

    @Rudy-I think your confused. I was calling out Longtimer`s double standard and you jumped in. All Im doing is explaining my comment to Longtimer and both sides make war. Rand Paul? So what if Rand Paul didn`t serve. Both sides have plenty of people that didn`t serve. That the key point.

    July 14, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Tom

    Clark Kent wannabe.
    Pathetic politician trying to reinvent himself

    July 14, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. smith

    @Rudy-When have I ever stated I was Rand Paul fan?

    July 14, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Executive Orders

    Oh Grow Up!

    July 14, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Executive Orders

    Democrats are sure to win in 2018 with all this child-like behavior of the Republicans.

    July 14, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. ComeOn2013

    either of them would make a great president! go GOP!!

    July 14, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Executive Orders

    Correction: Democrats are sure to win in 2016 with all this child-like behavior of the Republicans.

    July 14, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. What evs

    "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.
    Tom I – I'm not sure why you continue to engage a bitter old tired megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur and expect you would make any headway.

    July 14, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Mr. Balls

    All aboard the Clown Car.

    July 14, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Chuck

    Of course the closer we get to 2016, the louder the irrelevants will get. Let the Circus begin.

    July 14, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Robyn Kord

    IT IS TIME to get away from war. The middle east has been fighting since the biblical age. NO ONE...not even the good ole USA can stop the religious wars. Move ALL our troops to the USA and put them on the border. Let them wipe each other off the map.

    July 14, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Ol' Yeller


    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".

    Welcome to 'the gang' Longtimer. tom I will no doubt announce your membership now that you have had the audacity to point out his dishonesty and 'spin' (aka- lies). Do not try to defend yourself from being appointed, else we will also to see a looong post on how he is a victim of your defending yourself from his appointment of you to 'the gang' (his little self created straw man group of people whose independent existence makes him a victim because he is 'oh so much' smarter than all of us peons,,, it would really be quite amusing, if not for it being so pitiful).
    Oh yes... and if he calls you rascist names, do not DARE post anything back because then he rolls into a e-ball and start screaming that you i-kicked him.

    July 14, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. Wyckette

    I don't even know who's running and I'm already exhausted from the 2016 presidential race.

    July 14, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. GOP = Greed Over People

    While I disagree with Paul on EVERYTHING since he is an acolyte of Ann Rynd's "greed is a virtue", his article on politico where he rebutted four eyes on every point, it was logical and presented in a sane way.

    He would get extra points for pointing out what a moron Perry really is, but, then I would have to start calling him "Captain Obvious" instead of Aqua Buddha. Not gonna happen.

    July 14, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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