McCain: Paul a part of ‘Fortress America’ wing

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday waded into a brewing foreign policy debate inside the Republican Party, saying Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) represents a more isolationist outlook.

Paul is “part of a wing of the party that has been there prior to World War I, that is a withdrawal to ‘Fortress America,’” McCain said on CNN’s "State of the Union."

The veteran lawmaker said the turmoil throughout the Middle East is a “direct result of the absence of American leadership” in the world.

On Friday Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that shredded Paul’s foreign policy views

Paul’s “brand of isolationism (or whatever he prefers) would compound the threat” posed by terrorist in parts of the world like Syria and Iraq, Perry wrote.

A Paul adviser on Saturday dismissed Perry’s accusations as “utter nonsense.”

McCain, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Paul, acknowledged the freshman senator has a “far different view than mine of the world.”

But, McCain said, he understood Paul’s appeal to Americans “weary of involvement” after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"So I'm not particularly interested in getting between Senator Paul and Governor Perry, but I do believe that the things we're seeing in the world today, in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime, is a direct result of an absence of American leadership," McCain said. "And we are paying a very, very heavy price now, and we will in the future, until we decide to understand that America is an essential role in maintaining peace and stability throughout the world, and that does not mean sending combat troops everywhere."