- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie has a message for one of his potential rivals in the 2016 presidential contest: toughen up.

Speaking during his monthly “Ask the Governor” call-in radio show Wednesday evening, the Republican governor remarked that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a declared candidate, was “getting particularly sensitive” over the pair’s disagreement over the value of the Patriot Act and National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

“If he thinks it’s not nice to disagree then he’s probably in the wrong race because people will be disagreeing with each other all the time,” said Christie, who has been urging the Senate to keep the current powers in place.

The two men are on opposite sides of the debate over the act, parts of which are set to expire at the end of the month. But both appear to be using the issue as a means of differentiating themselves in a crowded GOP field.

Christie, who has yet to announce his expected candidacy, released a statement through his political action committee over the weekend blaming “misguided ideologues” in the Senate for failing to extend the act.

Paul, who held the Senate floor for nearly 11 hours last week to block an extension, responded during a television appearance that Christie’s comment “wasn’t very nice.”

The Senate returns to session Sunday, facing a deadline to reach a last-minute agreement to renew the once-secret NSA phone records-collection program.

Provisions of the Patriot Act dealing with lone-wolf targets and roving wiretaps also would expire with the phone records program.

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