Rand Paul: Rubio’s Cuba remarks ‘rude'

Rand Paul: Rubio’s Cuba remarks ‘rude'
© Greg Nash

The war of words between two likely 2016 contenders over President Obama’s sweeping changes to Cuba policy heated up further on Saturday, with Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWatchdog calls for probe into Gohmert 'disregarding public health guidance' on COVID-19 Massie plans to donate plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies After trillions in tax cuts for the rich, Republicans refuse to help struggling Americans MORE (R-Ky.) repeatedly blasting remarks from Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong MORE (R-Fla.) as “rude.”

“I never start a fight but I'm happy to finish a fight,” Paul told Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File on Friday.” “You know, I think the remarks were a little bit rude and intemperate.”

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In an interview on the same show one night prior, Rubio said that Paul — who supports President Obama’s move to roll back trade and travel restrictions and reestablish diplomatic ties with the Castro regime — had “no idea what he’s talking about.”

In a subsequent radio interview, Rubio said it was “unfortunate that Rand has decided to adopt Barack Obama’s foreign policy.”

“[He] basically repeated the talking points of the president,” Rubio told Mark Levin. “And that’s fine, he has every right to support the president’s foreign policy, that’s who he wants to line up with, but I’m telling you, it isn’t going to work.”

Paul has repeatedly punched back, taunting Rubio on social media and in an op-ed for Time Magazine, in which he said those who support trade with Russia, China, and Vietnam — but not Cuba — held “an inconsistent and incoherent position.” 

“I would say I don't doubt his sincerity, but I don't think a policy of isolationism has really worked with regard to Cuba… We trade with a host of countries that don't have perfect human rights records,” Paul told Fox. “And yet, we don't trade with Cuba. I think trade might loosen things up and might help to topple the Castros.”

Paul sidestepped subsequent questions about the extent to which the spat between the two was early sparring for a 2016 presidential campaign, saying he was driven by what he saw as an “inappropriate” response to a policy dispute. Both lawmakers are considered among the Republicans most likely to make a run for the White House.

“I think it's about the issues. I don't think that there's any certainty that either one of us will run at this point,” Paul said. “But the thing is it is about an issue and it's also about a fellow Republican who chose to, I think, use rude and inappropriate language with regard to a fellowa Republican. And I think that — I won't stand for it frankly. And if someone's going to cast dispersions on me and not talk about policy, then there will be an altercation and I won't shy from a battle.”