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Over the past week or so, we’ve seen an interesting debate unfold before us in a pretty verbal back-and-forth. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul are heavily hyped 2016 candidates as both clearly have supporters, represent different wings of their party and have been making all the right moves in preparation for national campaign.
Both are completely different. Chris Christie is a conventional conservative who appeals to moderates/independents not by centrist policies (in fact, you could make the argument he’s a clone of Scott Walker) but by personality. Christie’s schtick is essentially that of a “straight-talking, no holds barred” person and that appeals to a lot of people. He hugs the President, he gets into fights on the Boardwalk and he eats donuts on Letterman; all a very calculated effort to appeal to “personality politics”. Most non-political followers do not see Chris Christie as Scott Walker, but instead as kind of a caricature of New Jersey.
Rand Paul on the other hand doesn’t possess a gargantuan personality like his Republican counterpart. His “charm” is mostly in his politics and his views on policy, the same kind of libertarian streak that his father was well-known for. However, Paul’s notoriety grew after his filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan. Paul now appears to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2016 but he also inherited his father’s alarming connections to controversial neo-Confederates. I would expect questions over Paul’s national electability to eventually take front and center as we actually get closer to primary and caucus season.
Still, these two appear to be on a collision course at each other and we are starting to get a taste of what a debate between the two would look like.
It all started when Chris Christie, at a session hosted by the Aspen Institute, went on a mini-rant against libertarianism and his fear that the Republican Party is beginning to have a libertarian view of foreign policy.
As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought.
When asked if that included Rand Paul, Christie didn’t mention the Senator by name but stated “you can name any one of them that’s engaged in this” before inviting them to talk to some of the 9/11 widows and orphans in New Jersey.
Obviously Paul would rebuttal and he took to his Twitter account to launch this 140-character response.
Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.
Shots fired. Nonetheless, this appeared to be a normal spat between two politicians on various sides of a single issue. At first, it was interesting news fodder for a day or two but then the attacks grew more personal.
After the speech by Christie, Paul went to a fundraiser and decided to showcase a difference between Christie and himself which came after Peter King compared Paul to George McGovern (a compliment that Paul is not worthy of).
The people who want to criticize me and call me names, they are precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending,” Paul said at a “Boots and Jeans, BBQ and Beans” event in Franklin, according to CNN affiliate WKRN-TV.
They are ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme all my Sandy money now.’ Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not allowing enough money be left over for national defense.
First off has anything sounded more Republican than “Boots and Jeans, BBQ and Beans”? This just sounds like an event that Ted Nugent would perform at with accompaniment by Trace Adkins. Second off, Paul’s comments regarding Sandy relief was a not-so-thinly veiled attack on Christie and King.
Considering how plenty of parts of New Jersey are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, you would have to expect a very sharped response from Christie.
The Governor did just that with a scathing attack on Paul and pork barrel 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. 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.
Rebuttal? Paul launched this sharp line at Christie that I believe he was waiting to use all this time. “This is the king of bacon talking about bacon”. That’s a boomstick and is obviously in regards to Paul’s beliefs that New Jersey shouldn’t have received federal aid from Sandy which wouldn’t jive well over here.
For his part, Paul tried to invite Christie to a “beer summit” in which Christie declined on citing that he was too busy but the damage has been done.
Regardless of if Paul and Christie debate the merits of libertarianism over a few cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon is mostly irrelevant as this is only the beginning of a long battle between the two. You will likely see arguments between the two continuously pop up over the coming months and years as they try to stake their claims in preparation for a contentious primary.
But this highlights what we should expect between not just Christie vs. Paul but also the likes of Jeb Bush (who would likely side with Christie) and Ted Cruz (who is already loudly on Team Paul). We are approaching some “Team Edward or Team Jacob” visions within the Republican Party and it will likely get heavily personal.
I’m not one that believes the Republican Party will ever have the dramatic “civil war” that many have been speculating (and in my case hoping) for. However, if there is going to be a split; it will likely be over which way the party should head to the future. Paul doesn’t seem like he’ll be the type to stay in the Senate for the long haul nor does Cruz. If 2016 is unsuccessful for both of these politicians, then the so-called “libertarian” movement could be halted in its tracks.
It will be highly entertaining to watch though, especially if you are on Team Blue.