The feud between two potential GOP presidential contenders escalated today as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traded barbs about “pork” and “bacon” throughout the day.
In an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, Paul nicknamed Christie the “King of Bacon” after the New Jersey governor accused him of engaging in “pork barrel spending.”
“This is the king of bacon talking about bacon,” Paul said.
“It’s not helping the party for him to pick a war with me. It’s a big mistake. It’s not very smart. And it’s not a good way to grow the party,” Paul said.”Why would he want to pick a fight with the one guy who has a chance to grow the party by appealing to the youth and appealing to people who would like to see a more moderate and less aggressive foreign policy?”
At a news conference earlier in the day, Christie said Kentucky takes more federal funding than New Jersey and argued that Paul should examine his pursuit of “pork barrel spending” when finding ways to cut spending.
“If Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he’s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking, cutting the pork barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky,” Christie said. “Maybe Senator Paul could, you know, deal with that when he’s trying to deal with the reduction of spending on the federal side, but I doubt he would, because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so they can get re-elected.
“I have nothing personal against Senator Paul. If we disagree on certain issues, we disagree. It’s seeming his response seems to be he has something personal against me, but that’s OK. He’s just getting lined on that front,” he said.
The feud between the two GOP lawmakers started last week when Christie warned of the potential dangers of the “libertarianism” espoused by Paul, an outspoken critic of the National Security Agency, and some of his Republican colleagues regarding matters of national security.
“I just want us to be really cautious because this strain of libertarianism going through both parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said Thursday night at an Aspen Institute panel of Republican governors in Colorado.
“These esoteric intellectual debates, I want them to come to New Jersey and sit in front of the widows and the orphans and have that conversation,” Christie, 50, said, in a reference to people who lost family members in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.”
Paul, 50, extended the tiff this weekend by bashing Christie for his call for federal funding after Hurricane Sandy last year.
“They’re precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme, give me all my Sandy money now,’” Paul told reporters Sunday in Kentucky. “Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.”
On Monday, Paul ripped into Christie for using “the cloak of 9/11 victims” to criticize the Kentucky senator’s views on national security.
“It’s really, I think, kind of sad and cheap that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, ‘I’m the only one who cares about these victims.’ Hogwash,” Paul said in a FOX News interview Monday night. “If he cared about protecting this country, maybe he wouldn’t be in this ‘give me, give me, give me all of the money’ that you have in Washington or don’t have and he would be a little more fiscally responsive and know the way we defend our country, the way we have enough money for national defense is by being frugal.”
Both Republican lawmakers are considered likely presidential candidates for 2016, and as the two ripped into each other this week, one other potential presidential hopeful has picked a side in the fight. In a FOX News interview Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he’s willing to stand with Paul in the spat with Christie.
“I’m proud to stand side by side with Rand Paul,” Cruz said. “He and I have been fighting over and over and over again in the Senate to defend our constitutional liberties.
“I’ll say this, some of this tiff, Governor Christie is entitled to his views, he’s entitled to express his views, I think most Americans don’t care about politicians bickering in Washington,” he said. “They don’t care about the egos, and the battles that will happen in the beltway. What they’re interested in is solving the problems that we’ve got here.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.