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As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul battled very personally over policy issues this week — including privacy concerns, government spending, pork-barrel legislation and national security — Yahoo News asked GOP and conservative voters to discuss their merits of the two Republicans' arguments.
Not choosing sides yet: My admiration for both men is slipping in the wake of their "he said, he said" public squabbling. Their behavior is cringe-worthy.
Growing pains are ugly. Some Republicans seek new directions while others hold fast to standard conservative policies.
Meanwhile, the sparring will continue. Both Christie and Paul are tenacious — a fine trait when used for positive outcomes. Now, Christie and Paul are showing us their egotistical sides, as well. This behavior doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the party.
Right now, I'm not choosing sides. It's a time for observation. It's a time for consideration. Gov. Nikki Haley, where are you?
— Susan Durham lives in Baraga, Mich.
Paul trumps Christie on liberty, economics: It was Paul who sponsored a bill to curb NSAspying. Meanwhile, Christie's best foot forward was to scold libertarian-leaning Republicans: "[T]here will always be mistakes when it comes to national security and protecting privacy…" Mistakes? I think the word he was looking for was “stalking.”
And when it comes to government spending, Paul is a champion of a federal government living within its means. As for Christie, he had no qualms twisting arms in Washington to get $50.7 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy cleanup. How does a nation more than $17 trillion in debt find billions of dollars to give to New Jersey? If you or I were in that much debt and we kept spending, we'd have been locked up and stripped of our credit cards long ago.
Sen. Paul, you have my blessing. While I'm sure Gov. Christie has sincere intentions to create a safer, more stable America, spending money we don't have and destroying what few liberties remain under a decimated Constitution is never a good answer.
— Mark Kwasny is a resident of Citrus Heights, Calif.
Fighting from the bottom up: As these two gear up for their respective presidential campaigns, interest turns to which, if either, bucks the GOP primary trend of running to the extreme of the party. Both are independent thinkers, but this recent spat may have revealed Gov. Christie's entry into national base-driven politics and Sen. Paul's falling to a "lowest common denominator" attack position.
For the sake of the country (and the freedoms it supports), let's hope not.
— David J. Kozlowski is a corporate lawyer in Manhattan and Stamford, Conn., resident. He can be found on Twitter at @DaveKozlowski. The views expressed are his own.
Christie failing to lead: While the governor of New Jersey struck first bydescribing Paul and other libertarians as "dangerous," the senator from Kentucky responded with harsh words that equally violated Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment to avoid speaking ill of fellow Republicans. Paul criticized Christie's support of NSA surveillance and even fired personal shots, labeling his rival "king of bacon" for advocacy of certain federal spending.
Though not purely libertarian, I rally to Paul's side because his freedom-based positions best counter the unbridled spending of the Obama administration. I applaud Paul's current efforts to de-fund Obamacare, before the law can devastate the American economy.
Sen. Paul has demonstrated consistent leadership since election in 2010. While a lengthy filibuster opposing drone use received substantial attention, the 50-year-old ophthalmologist frequently voices common-sense solutions otherwise ignored in Washington, including a recent argument to withdraw $1 billion of foreign aid for Egypt to help infrastructure needs at home.
In contrast, Gov. Christie has failed to lead.
— Jeff Briscoe is an attorney and writer from Port Charlotte, Fla.
Paul can’t succeed nationally: Not only does the tea party's growing influence threaten the very existence of the Republican Party, it has led to arguably the most dysfunctional Congress in recent history. Its no-compromise, no-government philosophy has resulted in a "do nothing" legislative strategy. If the Republican Party cannot debate and resolve the future strategic direction of the party, its relevance will likely devolve to the point of extinction.
GOP chaos may not have a significant impact on the midterm elections because congressional districts have been gerrymandered in a way that supports incumbents. But the 2016 presidential election, absent a miraculous mending of fences, is a lock for the Democrats.
One final prediction: Rand Paul will fare no better in his quest for the Republican nomination for president than his father Ron did. Thank God.
— Michael Gonyea is a lifelong conservative voter. He lives in Rockwood, Mich.
At least Christie lives in reality: In a blatantly honest statement, Gov. Christie worried [Edward] Snowden's actions could weaken the National Security Agency's efforts to prevent another 9/11. His main concern, and the concern of many Republicans, is that the efficiency of the agency in the last decade has created complacency among American citizens. The NSA has done such an excellent job that we forgot why we needed it.
In response, Sen. Paul accused Christie of using 9/11 as emotional manipulation, even going so far as to accuse Christie of suppressing the Bill of Rights. This has started a wildfire in Congress, with each side tossing accusations and insults… like they always do. What worries Christie, and most Republicans, is that Snowden's treason (there's no other word, for them) could severely limit the NSA's ability to discover, observe and prevent another terrorist plot. That's not emotional blackmail on Christie's part. That is reality.
Like anyone, I wish we didn't need the NSA. I wish there would never be another 9/11. I wish the world was full of happy, well-fed people who got along. But that is not the world. The world is dangerous and the United States has enemies.
Christie knows this, and he's willing to admit it. That's the leader we want.
— Trent Rivers lives in Indiana.
Talking it out, despite chest-thumping, is good for party: Both men have good points. Christie is right that we should not hold back when pursuing the terrorists and Paul has a good point in that we should not trample upon the civil liberties of Americans when doing so. Finding the right balance is hard. Having the discussion, though Paul and Christie are being a bit too bellicose, is a good thing.
In any case, Politico reports that the two men, both of whom have been mentioned as possible candidates for president, have drawn back from the brink. But, the question arises, if the choice is between Paul and Christie, which one?
In the end, I have to come down on Paul's side, at least for the time being. While the Christian Science Monitor thinks that the bromance between Christie and President Barack Obama, started in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, has died down, the governor's obsequiousness was still annoying.
— Mark R. Whittington lives in Houston.
A dose of pragmatism needed: The goal of a political party is not perfect fidelity to some belief system. Then it would be an ideology. Rather, the most important function of a political party is to take office and to hold office. Gov. Christie is thinking what's best for the party, while Sen. Paul is thinking about the ideology.
"[Christie's] making a big mistake picking a fight with other Republicans, because the Republican Party is shrinking in — in New England and in thenortheast part of our country," Sen. Paul said on CNN on Tuesday. "I'm the one trying to grow the party."
All Paul is doing is increasing the total percentage of people in states like Kentucky who vote GOP, instead of helping the party win states they haven't taken since 1988, like the one Christie is winning in.
And while GOP voters may like Paul's brand of libertarianism better than Christie's moderate message, the latter does the best in head-to-head matchups with Hillary Clinton.
— John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.