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. Winston Smith

    Hard to believe that anyone could think that just by donning glasses, others would think of them as being a rocket scientist. Only a republican could be this shallow.

    July 14, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. Ol' Yeller

    "Fascinating. You seem to have intimately detailed information about the content of all of "smith's" posts, tom."

    I'm going to have to side with tom and smith on this one rudy... if smith would have shown up at any of the 'rand paul for empuror and gawd of the entire universe (and parts of Canada)' meetings, I'm pretty sure tom I would have seen him in 'the crowd'.

    July 14, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. Dallas

    The thoughts of either one of these clowns residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue makes my blood run cold. This childish behavior they are engaging in is a slap in the face to the Republican party and diminishes their credibility even further. The Repugs will never occupy the White House again unless and until they moderate themselves, purge themselves of these clowns and learn the meaning of the word "Compromise"!

    July 14, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |

    The LAST thing this country needs as POTUS is another TX governor who has as much a grasp of foreign policy as my CAT!

    July 14, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. smith

    @Rudy-First I was a conservative and now Im a libertarian. Wow.Im an admitted Independent.

    July 14, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Longtimer

    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."
    To be fair, Smith is correct on his general observation. The problem is everyone on the Right is always selecting "War" on their foreign affairs pop quiz as their first/best answer. The Left generally, and our esteemed President take a more thoughtful approach that has been shown to be more productive, cheaper and less deadly.

    July 14, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. Max

    I think Ricks glasses make him look smart

    July 14, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. What evs

    Angry? Why would I be angry (and I am far from a hater, guest. I cannot stand haters. I rail against the haters on here daily). Because I respond with tongue in cheek, biting humor to your blindside attack on me when I have never once posted anything in response to you... I am angry (insightfu, aren't we?)?
    Like my grandpappy used to say... If you wade barehanded into a dogfight and get bit... it aint the dog's fault.
    But you go right ahead and keep posting your little snide remarks at me... (it shows the level of your character, not mine).
    Funny that you bring up character... Yours is so apparent that I just had to call it out. Now just go back to posting insults at everyone that you disagree with and breaking your arm patting yourself on the back in the process.

    July 14, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. Cyg

    That's the best Paul could come up with huh? What a joner

    July 14, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. kelly

    Rick Perry is not a 2016 presidential contender. stop saying that. republicans are not stupid people. none of them want him as president. stop trying to make republicans out to be dumb.

    July 14, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. DickCheneyDidIt

    "We have got to stop being the stupid party." – Bobby Jindal

    July 14, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Mara Tam

    Fame is fleeting, but dumb is forever. (from a Darwin Awards book)

    July 14, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    This is so good.

    July 14, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. alanread1

    It also endangers NATIONAL SECURITY when bright and deserving young American men and women CAN'T AFFORD to attend college because Conservatives prefer to spend the taxpayers' money on WAR AND BOMBS and playing NANNY TO THE WORLD instead of support for education. My tuition and fees to state college were only $300 a semester 30 years ago, but states no longer can afford to heavily subsidize higher education. Why? Throwing 3 TRILLION $$$$ down the IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN TOILETS might be one reason!

    July 14, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. columbus

    When people start screaming isolationist, they probably have a lot of money invested outside of our borders, or they're getting a lot of contributions from foreign nationals.

    July 14, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. matt

    Rick got the damn glasses to make him look smart....he has people talking about them instead of all the diahrrea coming from his mouth...

    July 14, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Miriam

    Rand and Paul are 100 % better than the bozo we have in office now. And that commie loon socialist Hillary should retire. We are sick of the Clintons. Obama has done everything in his power to ruin the USA.
    Counting the days until November 2015. Better yet, January 2016 and he can take his kids, wife and mother-in-law who is living off the taxes of the Americans. What first lady ever had 28 attendants for herself? Jackie Kennedy had tow little ones and she didn't want anyone around her. This is just greed- pure liberal greed with fried chicken

    July 14, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Linda

    I can't wait until we get the Obama gang out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    July 14, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. Name

    Glasses would make Perry look more
    stupid than he already is.

    July 14, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. cebundy1620

    2016 primaries should be very entertaining!! Thankfully neither of these "intellectual giants" have a chance at becoming president. Although one has to wonder at their ability to be elected to their current posts so far.

    July 14, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    How gallant of you to defend tom I by attacking me and making such silly statements when you have no idea of anything about me. I'm sure you will run off now (and probablty change your screen name back to tom I) and never be heard from again.
    You are obviously a brave and honorable individual (aka- what republicants think of themselves as, but is as far from reality as you can get).
    You should probably crawl back under your rock now.. you have made the most intelligent statement you are likely to ever make in your lifetime... other than maybe 'Guilty your honor, but in my defense I thought she was 13"
    Outstanding comeback Ol' Yeller!!
    And that last line...BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    July 14, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Voice of Reason

    I think the glasses were supposed to make Perry look smarter. We all know better. But please, by all means, keep infighting as long as possible, GOP – it makes Hillary's 2016 win that much more inevitable.

    July 14, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. 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?


    @Rudy-Here we go again, you were wrong and now its time for the Rudy shuffle.
    "You're wrong?" It would nice if you had the courtesy to say what I'm wrong about. But, hey, I guess that's expecting too much from you. I posted your unsolicited attack above. BTW, everyone knows that you post under multiple names. Like I said, you've got way too much libertarian halitosis to hide it.

    July 14, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. thinchliff

    Nothing could make Perry look anything other a doofus, primarily because he has to open his mouth to speak, and then all doubt is removed.

    July 14, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Future

    I'm not sure Rand Paul stands a chance of being elected although he does resonate with the youth. But one thing is for sure...Perry does not stand a snowballs chance in hell of being elected president and should focus on helping a candidate that does.

    July 14, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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