Two leading Republicans have begun an unusually personal war of words over foreign policy, highlighting a broader divide within the GOP over international affairs in one of the first public clashes of the Republican Party’s presidential primary process.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Monday lashed out at his Republican colleague Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s weekend charge that Paul’s “isolationist” views are dangerous. Paul, a tea-party favorite, responded by taking a swipe at Perry’s fashion accessories in an article published in Politico Magazine titled, “Rick Perry is dead wrong.”
“Apparently, his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly,” wrote Paul.
Paul continued: “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.”
Both men are seriously considering running for president in 2016, but the Republican-on-Republican attack is rare so soon before the GOP primary process begins.
With conflicts escalating across the globe, foreign policy is poised to become a key issue in the race — especially as the GOP begins to embrace a libertarian shift on national security and foreign affairs.
Paul has emerged as a leading voice among conservative activists who favor a dramatically smaller U.S. footprint on the international stage. Perry and others, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, support a more- aggressive leadership role for the United States, despite polls suggesting that voters have grown war-weary after prolonged military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.