Rand Paul targets Donald Trump

Updated

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has had enough of Donald Trump.

Paul on Monday called Trump “an empty suit” and “a bully” in a conference call with reporters aimed at seizing on the growing outrage against the front-runner in the GOP presidential primary.

“If no one stands up to a bully, a bully is going to keep doing what they’re doing,” Paul said. “Unless someone points out that the emperor has no clothes, they’ll continue to strut about and what we’ll end up with is a reality TV star as nominee, if we’re not careful.”

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During the call, Paul cited his tea party roots as a sign of his deep commitment to flushing out “fake conservatives” from the Republican ranks. Paul first branded Trump with the scarlet title of “fakeconservative” in an op-ed published Monday morning, in which Paul posited that Trump “isn’t suited to lead the country, and I think we all need to discuss why.” The major points of that discussion: policy flip flops, frequently changing party affiliations, and accusations of Trump speech as “self aggrandizing bombast” that lacked in substance what it made up for in bluster.

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“How can a quarter of the GOP support a guy who was a Republican, then an Independent, then a Democrat, and then a Republican again?” Paul wrote.

Trump held a firm lead in the polls among GOP primary voters heading into last week’s GOP debate, but in recent days has faced a storm of criticism for saying Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever.” Since then, a number of influential conservatives have spoken out against the real-estate mogul.

When asked by NBC News if Trump was hurting GOP efforts with women, Paul pivoted to his own poll numbers against Hillary Clinton.

“I’m the only candidate that leads Hillary Clinton in five states won by President Obama,” he said, referencing Quinnipiac polling that shows Paul leading Clinton in head-to-head matchups in some key swing states.

“I think that while some people are excited by fat jokes and stupid jokes, that I think there are a lot of people in the general election — independents, as well as probably many of, uh, women voters, aren’t really that entertained by this,” Paul said. 

This article first appeared at NBCNews.com

Donald Trump and Rand Paul

Rand Paul targets Donald Trump

Updated