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Rand Paul "Happy" to Defuse Christie Quarrel

Rand Paul "Happy" to Defuse Christie Quarrel

By Scott Conroy - July 31, 2013

During an interview on a New Hampshire radio show Wednesday morning, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sought to tone down a rapidly escalating public spat with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a potential rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

"I didn't pick this recent fight with the governor down in New Jersey,” Paul told host Jack Heath on “New Hampshire Today.” “But I think the party does better if we have less infighting, so I would suggest if he wants to ratchet it down, I’m more than happy to.”

The Paul vs. Christie conflict has been simmering for months, ever since the two prominent Republicans began trading invectives over each other’s motives regarding a Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Tensions boiled over last week when Christie suggested that Paul had been engaged in “esoteric debates,” an allusion to the Kentucky libertarian’s noninterventionist foreign policy positions.

After more back-and-forth arguing, Paul fired the latest salvo Tuesday when he referred to the governor as the “king of bacon,” after Christie questioned the senator’s pork barrel spending.

The Paul/Christie conflict has showcased the growing rift between the Republican Party’s libertarian and establishment wings, which figures to be a growing theme as the unofficial race for the 2016 nomination revs up earlier and more overtly than in prior presidential cycles.

Asked whether he intends to run for president, Paul said he is “thinking about it” but will not make up his mind “for another year or so.”

But Paul continued be aggressive, as he has been for months, in laying out a blanket case for his prospective White House bid.

“I’ve been trying to help the national party to grow bigger, bringing new people into it,” he said during the radio program, which airs in the first-in-the-nation primary state. “I’m the kind of candidate, if I were to be a national candidate, that would be someone that says, you know, young people, Republicans, we will protect your privacy.” 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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