Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul hit back at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the two Republicans’ ongoing spat over national security.
Paul told reporters after speaking at a fundraiser outside Nashville on Sunday that Christie’s position hurts GOP chances in national elections, and that spending priorities of critics like the governor and Rep. Peter King of New York do more to harm national security.
“They’re precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme — give me all my Sandy money now,’” Paul said. “Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.”
King called Paul’s criticism of Sandy aid “indefensible.”
“This was absolutely life-or-death money that was essential to New York and New Jersey,” King said.
Only a portion of the $60 billion Sandy aid went directly for relief efforts. The majority of the funds was allocated for bolstering the states for future storms and other causes.
Paul rejected arguments that the National Security Agency’s collection of hundreds of millions of U.S. phone and internet records are necessary for anti-terrorism.
“I don’t mind spying on terrorists,” he said. “I just don’t like spying on all Americans.”
Paul said the issue resonates particularly with young people, a key demographic.
As for the back-and-forth with Christie, Paul said he wasn’t the one itching for a fight.
“I didn’t start this one and I don’t plan on starting things by criticizing other Republicans,” he said. “But if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades.”