If nothing else, the war that has broken out between Libertarian Rand Paul and establishment governor Chris Christie has served to illuminate the fractures in the Republican party on almost every issue of importance.
What began as a debate over national security has now become a war of words over spending – with both men accusing the other of pork barrell politics.
Sen. Rand Paul slammed Chris Christie’s on Tuesday, calling the GOP governor the “king of bacon,” adding another jab in a string of attacks the two Republicans have thrown at each other in recent days.
“This is the king of bacon talking about bacon,” the Republican from Kentucky said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “You know, we have two military bases in Kentucky, and is Governor Christie recommending that we shut down our military bases? … No what this debate really is about is that in order to have enough money for national defense, which I think is a priority for the government, you have to be willing to cut spending in other places, and Governor Christie and others have been part of this gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme all this money.”
Paul’s comments come after another day’s worth of the two possible 2016 hopefuls trading barbs over national security and “pork barrel spending.” Paul was responding specifically to a charge that Christie made that Kentucky gets more money from the federal government than it puts in, unlike New Jersey.
“Maybe he should start cutting the pork barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky,” Christie said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “But I doubt he will because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get re-elected.”
Christie said New Jersey gets back 61 cents for every dollar sent to Washington while Kentucky receives $1.51.
Before that, Paul had on Monday night called attacks from Christie “cheap and sad” that he would use “the cloak of 9/11 victims” to bash the Kentucky Republican.
“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 on Monday to Sean Hannity on Fox News. “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 more fiscally responsive and know the way we defend our country.”
Of course, Christie fails to mention that there are more rural poor in Kentucky than New Jersey, and several large military bases that account for most of that money flowing to Kentucky. But one man’s “pork” is another man’s justifiable spending, so this argument will probably peter out with both men scoring points against the other.
Neither politician is covering themselves in glory. But as political theater, it is instructive as to what issues will be debated by GOP candidates in 2016.