Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday offered an olive branch of sorts to fellow Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with whom he has been engaged in a highly public feud in recent days over national defense and federal spending.
"I didn't pick this recent fight with the governor down in New Jersey," the Kentucky senator told a New Hampshire radio station. "But I think the party does better if we have less infighting, so I would suggest if he wants to ratchet it down, I'm more than happy to."
Mr. Paul had responded to return fire from Mr. Christie in the escalating spat Tuesday by labeling him the "king of bacon" for the governor's use of federal funding.
"This is the king of bacon talking about bacon," Mr. Paul, like Mr. Christie seen as a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, told CNN.
On Wednesday, he said he's trying to expand the Republican Party.
"I've been trying to help the national party to grow bigger, bringing new people into it," Mr. Paul told WGIR-AM. "I'm the kind of candidate, if I were to be a national candidate, that would be someone that says, 'You know, young people, Republicans, we will protect your privacy, we do care about the Internet, we do want to promote a a less aggressive foreign policy — a strong national defense, but a less aggressive foreign policy. I think if you see that, I think that will grow our party."
Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Christie had derided Mr. Paul for criticizing him over accepting Hurricane Sandy relief money, pointing out Mr. Paul's home state of Kentucky gets $1.51 in federal money for every dollar it sends to Washington while New Jersey gets just 61 cents.
"So if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he's going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start cutting the pork-barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky," Mr. Christie told reporters. "What does he want to do, shut down military bases in Kentucky?"
Mr. Paul, though, said it was a "big mistake" for Mr. Christie to be picking a fight with someone like him.
"Why would he want to pick a fight with the one guy who has a chance to grow the party by appealing to the youth and appealing to people who would like to see a more moderate and less aggressive foreign policy?" Mr. Paul said.
The squabble between the highly visible party figures has been simmering since last week, when Mr. Christie criticized the strain of libertarianism being championed by Mr. Paul and others, saying that people having such "esoteric, intellectual debates" about national security should come to New Jersey to face 9/11 widows and orphans to have the conversation.
"It's really, I think, kind of sad and cheap that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, 'Oh, I'm the only one who cares about these victims.' Hogwash," Mr. Paul shot back Monday on Fox News' "Hannity." "If he cared about protecting this country, maybe he wouldn't be in this 'gimme, gimme, gimme all the money that you have in Washington or don't have,' and he'd be a little more fiscally responsive and know that the way we defend our country, the way we have enough money for national defense, is by being frugal and not by saying 'gimme, gimme, gimme' all the time."
The outspoken Mr. Christie defended himself Tuesday.
"If you ask me a question, I give an answer," he said. "You know, his response seems that he has something personal against me, but that's OK. He can just get in line on that front."
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