Paul: Perry 'name-calling' in isolationism debate

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) late Tuesday dismissed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) recent criticisms of the senator's foreign policy stance.  

“Well, you know, it might be healthy, but that sounded like a bunch of name-calling to me,” Paul said on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

Paul said President Obama’s decision to arm the Syrian rebels has emboldened jihadists in the Middle East. He said they’re now more of a threat to the United States and can’t be ignored.   

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“So it's unfair for people like Gov. Perry to say I'm ignoring the situation or not conscious of this. I am very conscious of this. Not only that, I think the primary responsibility of the federal government is to defend our country and to defend our interests. And I have said that [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki is an ally, the government of Iraq is an ally, and that we will support them,” he said.

Paul said Sunni militants who have spilled into Iraq from Syria have created a “terrorist wonderland” in the region. 

“But what I would say to people who want to criticize me and call me names is, ‘Do they want to put troops back in?’ The Iraqis stripped off their uniforms and ran, wouldn't defend their cities, and you want our GIs to get on the ground and fight?”

Paul questioned what Perry is calling for and if he would want to put troops on the ground again in Iraq, which Paul says would be a “mistake.”

Perry called out Paul on Friday in a Washington Post op-ed for his “brand of isolationism.”

“Rand Paul's brand of isolationism, or whatever term he prefers, would compound the threat of terrorism even further,” Perry wrote. "It's disheartening to hear fellow Republicans such as Senator Rand Paul suggest that our nation should ignore what's happening in Iraq."

Both Paul and Perry are potential GOP presidential contenders for the 2016 race.