New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and US Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) engaged in one of the most fiery exchanges of Thursday’s first Republican presidential debate.
The two went back and forth over the effectiveness and legality of the Patriot Act and National Security Agency surveillance, which has divided the two Republicans for a long time.
Christie, the more hawkish of the two and a former US attorney, began the exchange by invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day at her office, having gone through it that morning,” Christie said.
“When you actually have to be responsible for doing this, you can do it and we did it for seven years in my office: respecting civil liberties and protecting the homeland. And I will make no apologies ever for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people. We have to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer. And then trust those people.”
Paul shot back, saying he wanted to curb the collection of phone records on “innocent” Americans — but not suspected terrorists.
“Can I respond? I want to collect more records from terrorists from less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the revolution over. John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence. And I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights! And I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights!”
Christie called Paul’s response “ridiculous,” saying it was impossible to completely distinguish in record collection.
“Megyn, that’s a completely ridiculous answer. ‘I want to collect more records from terrorists but less records from other people.’ But how are you supposed to know, Megyn?” Christie asked Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
Paul had a quick response, repeatedly shouting at Christie as the two talked over each other.
“Use the Fourth Amendment! Use the Fourth Amendment! Get a warrant! Get a judge to sign a warrant! Use the Constitution!” Paul said.
Then Christie came back, criticising Paul’s position as a US senator who hasn’t been in a position to deal with the realities of defending against a terrorist attack.
“Listen senator, you know when you’re sitting in a subcommittee just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that. When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure that you use the system the way it’s supposed to work,” Christie said.
Paul then shot back, accusing Christie of fundamentally misunderstanding the Bill of Rights. And then he went after Christie for his much-criticised embrace of President Barack Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy during the 2012 presidential campaign.
“Here’s the problem governor: You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights,” Paul said. “Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge,” Paul responded. “I’m talking about searches without warrants, indiscriminatel
But Christie got the last word — again invoking the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Sen. Paul, you the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families that lost their people on September 11,” Christie said.
Paul greeted that comment with an eye roll.
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC) August 7, 2015
Said Kelly, summing it up: “That was an interesting exchange.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.