Rand Paul: Chris Christie is the "king of bacon"

The way this feud is progressing, I half-expect Christie to reply, “And you’re the queen.”

Ostensibly Paul means “bacon” in terms of “pork,” i.e. wasteful federal spending. Which I guess means he’ll be referring to Christie as “Porky” before the week’s out.

“This is the king of bacon talking about bacon,” Paul said about Christie. Both are considered potential 2016 contenders for the Republican presidential nomination…

“What does he want to do, shut down military bases in Kentucky?” he said.

Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, both Army bases, are located in Kentucky. New Jersey itself is home to a large joint military base that houses the McGuire Air Force base; Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst; and Fort Dix, an Army base…

“It’s not helping the party for him to pick a war with me. It’s a big mistake. It’s not very smart. And it’s not a good way to grow the party,” Paul said, adding that the Republican Party is “shrinking” in the Northeast. “Why would he want to pick a fight with the one guy who has a chance to grow the party by appealing to the youth and appealing to people who would like to see a more moderate and less aggressive foreign policy?”

Alternate headline: “Member of Paul family suddenly opposed to shutting down military bases.” I’m going to post the video for you once it’s available at CNN.com, but in the meantime focus on the last part of what he said. Is picking a fight with Paul a big mistake for Christie? In some respects, yeah. If Christie’s serious about running in 2016, he’s kissing off some libertarian-leaning Republicans by squabbling with their champion. (Whether he had any chance of winning them even if he was chummy with Paul is another question.) On the subject of the NSA alone, grassroots righties are far more inclined to the Paul position than the Obama/Bush one. Stuff like this is of a piece with Christie’s support for gun control, his willingness to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, and various other right-wing heresies: At some point the cumulative effect of his antagonism with the right will present an electability problem. Even if he’s best positioned to go out and win indies and centrist Democrats, I think he’s the one guy in the field whose nomination might force a significant chunk of conservatives to stay home.

On the other hand, Paul’s the one guy in the field who might force a significant chunk of hawks to stay home (or cross the aisle). At a bare minimum, punching up with a tea-party star — especially over Sandy relief — helps Christie’s gubernatorial reelection in Jersey. Beyond that, as a Twitter buddy suggested earlier, having the 2016 primary run-up dominated by a “Christie versus Paul” storyline isn’t the worst outcome for the Bacon King. It’ll be easier to marginalize Paul than it will be to marginalize Rubio, Walker, Jindal, or Ryan. Hawks and centrists will be with Christie from the outset, then he’ll go to work on hitting Paul over his dad’s newsletters and the recent “Southern Avenger” business, the old dust-up over what he said about the Civil Rights Act, maybe some of his rhetoric on Lochner, etc etc etc. The message to righties will be that they may prefer Paul on the merits but he simply can’t win the general election. On electability grounds alone, you need to wake up and, er, smell the bacon. (That’s not just Christie’s blueprint against Paul, needless to say. Whoever emerges as moderate/establishment champion will run against him that way.) That’s an easier message to push against Paul than it is against anyone else in the field; conversely, it’s easier for Paul to attack Christie as a RINO than it is anyone else in the field. That’s a big reason why you’re seeing this now and why you’ll see more of it. Apart from the personal and philosophical antipathy, it’s win/win for both.

Update: And here’s the vid.