New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie condemned the Republican Party’s increasingly libertarian views as the source behind the growing divide within the party.
During a discussion between Republican governors on Thursday at the Aspen Institute, Christie blamed GOP leaders, such as Sen. Rand Paul, for engaging in “esoteric” debates with little progress, further branding the party as extreme and out of touch.
“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said while discussing the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent war on terror.
CHRISTIE: As the governor now of the state that lost the second most people on 9/11 behind the state of New York and still seeing those families… I love all these esoteric debates that people are getting into–
MODERATOR: Senator Rand Paul, for example?
CHRISTIE: Listen, you can name any number of people who have engaged in it, and he’s one of them. These esoteric, intellectual debates—I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.
A senior adviser to Paul responded on Friday to Christie’s comments, telling the Washington Times, “If Gov. Christie believes the constitutional rights and privacy of all Americans are ‘esoteric,’ he either needs a new dictionary or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent times.”
Paul has been vocal in criticizing the governments programs on drones and national surveillance, and tweeted Friday: “Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.”
Christie’s remarks come one week after Paul’s trip to Iowa, which led some to suspect the Kentucky senator was laying ground for a 2016 presidential bid. Christie himself has also been the subject of 2016 rumors after turning down the a 2012 presidential run.