Citing Sandy aid, Rand Paul fires back at Christie

The spat between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is starting to get heated, with Paul on Sunday night criticizing Christie over his stance on aid for Hurricane Sandy.

Paul attacked both Christie and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has also indicated some interest in running for president in recent days and has also been critical of Paul for his libertarian approach to foreign policy and his opposition to the Sandy aid package.

“They’re precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and they're ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme — give me all my Sandy money now,’” Paul said at a Tennessee fundraiser, where his remarks were taped by the Tennesseean. “Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense. So I think it's those people who are making us weak in defense."

Some conservatives resisted the Sandy package because it didn't include spending cuts to offset to expenditures. They also criticized it for including too much pork.

Christie started the back-and-forth Thursday, when he took on libertarians in Congress for their support for a bill that would have defunded the NSA's phone record collection program -- a bill that nearly passed in the House.

“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,” Christie said.

On Sunday, King joined the criticism, hitting Paul for offering comments supportive of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. King, a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is known as a foreign policy hawk.

“When you have Rand Paul actually comparing Snowden to Martin Luther King or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness,” King said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is the anti-war, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years. I don’t want that to happen to our party.”

Paul said Sunday that he's not looking for a fight, but that if Christie wants one, he's got it.

“I didn’t start this one, and I don’t plan on starting things by criticizing other Republicans,” Paul said. “But if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades.”

Updated at 11:46 a.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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