“When Rand Paul pulls a stunt like this, it [is] easy to understand why it’s difficult to be Rand Paul’s next-door neighbor,” Dent said Thursday night.
In a message posted to Twitter, Midler made a similar comment around the same time: “Where’s Rand Paul’s neighbor when we need him?”
Paul’s camp did not take well to Dent’s quip.
“That comment is disgusting, and Charlie Dent should apologize. Sen. Rand Paul will always stand up for what is right, regardless of which party is in control,” Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “He successfully brought much-needed attention to the hypocrisy in the halls of Congress when it comes to out-of-control spending.”
In a phone interview with The Post, Dent said he likes and respects Paul, but he would not apologize for what he called a “clearly facetious” comment made in jest.
“Who knew libertarians were so sensitive and concerned with political correctness?” he said, as he arrived in Pennsylvania to celebrate the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles.
What Dent says he is serious about is the need to increase funding for the military. He described the budget deal as a necessary yet imperfect agreement to deliver on Trump’s and Republicans’ desires to increase the defense budget and satisfy the demands of congressional Democrats to increase domestic spending.
He called Paul’s holding up the Senate vote gratuitous. “There was no chance of success. He knew it,” Dent said. “Everyone knew it.”
“Is he [Paul] going to apologize for shutting down the government?” Dent asked rhetorically. “No.”
Dent said the two-year budget is “a bit larger” than he preferred, but it has cleared the legislative runway for other key measures such as the battle to grant permanent legal status to “dreamers,” immigrants brought to United States illegally as children, and Trump-fueled efforts to bolster security on the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Friday, the stinging criticism of Paul continued in what Politico called the dumbest shutdown ever, though Midler has not weighed in since her tweet and could not be reached for comment.
“Midler has become so irrelevant that she had to resort to advocating violence to make it back in the news,” Paul’s spokesman, Gor, said.
He did not demand an apology from Midler, and it does not appear that Dent, who will not seek reelection this year, will offer one, either.