Rand Paul hits back at Christie, King: "If they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades"

The volleying continues. This definitely isn’t the first time that Sen. Paul has hit Gov. Christie for some of his more blueish tendencies in the slow-moving but snowballing 2016 intra-party shakeout, but after Christie’s (ill-advised?) tear last week — “this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought” — you knew Paul wasn’t going to let that one go without returning some words. Via the AP:

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, referring to federal funding after the hurricane last year. “Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.” …

Paul on Sunday rejected arguments that the National Security Agency’s collection of hundreds of millions of U.S. phone and Internet records is necessary to prevent terrorism.

“I don’t mind spying on terrorists,” he said. “I just don’t like spying on all Americans.” …

“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.”

Translation: I’m not trying get nasty on the libertarian versus neoconservative foreign-policy discussion, but if anyone wants to start this fight by invoking me personally the center of their attacks, then I’ll sure as heck finish it.

And indeed, it does feel like the GOP’s getting ready to duke it out over foreign policy in the run-up to 2016; asked about the House vote to restrict the NSA’s authority last week, Christie mentioned that he thinks “it’s not a debate not worth having” — but evidently, plenty of lawmakers think that it is a debate worth having, and as Paul said in regards to some of the GOP’s electoral issues, “If you talk about some privacy issues like that, I think you will find youth coming to you.” Yeah, this debate is definitely happening.