New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky engaged in a heated exchange over civil liberties and national security in the GOP presidential debate Thursday night, with Mr. Paul accusing the governor of siding too closely with President Obama’s surveillance policies.
“I don’t trust President Obama with our [phone] records,” Mr. Paul told Mr. Christie. “I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.”
It was a reference to Mr. Christie’s camaraderie with the president after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, in the midst of Mr. Obama’s reelection campaign. Mr. Christie hit back at Mr. Paul hard, accusing him of endangering the U.S. in his high-profile push to protect civil liberties.
“Senator Paul, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th,” Mr. Christie said. “And those had nothing to do with politics, unlike what you’re doing by cutting speeches on the floor of the Senate and putting them on the Internet within a half an hour to raise money for your campaign and while still putting our country at risk.”
The mini-debate began when Mr. Christie, answering a question about national security, said the U.S. needs to give its security officials “more tools” to protect the country.
Mr. Paul responded, “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over. I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.”
The governor replied, “That’s a completely ridiculous answer. How are you supposed to know [the difference]?”
“Get a warrant!” Mr. Paul replied.
“Senator, when you’re sitting in a subcommittee just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that,” Mr. Christie said. “When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of American people, then what you need to do is make sure..”
Mr. Paul interrupted him, saying, “Here’s the problem, governor. You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights.”