Rick Perry and Rand Paul continue their foreign policy feud

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Refusing to concede the last word on a days-long war of words about America's role in the world, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., penned a searing op-ed Monday taking Texas Gov. Rick Perry to task over what he calls a mischaracterization of his foreign policy - and offering a few thoughts on Perry's own proclamations.

"Governor Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy so mischaracterizing my views that I wonder if he's even really read any of my policy papers," Paul wrote in an op-ed that appeared in Politico. He even took a shot at Perry's recently acquired eyewear, writing that, "Apparently his new glasses haven't altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly."

The sparring began over the weekend with an op-ed Perry penned for The Washington Post in which he said it was "disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul, suggest that our nation should ignore what's happening in Iraq."

He later defended those remarks in an appearance on "Face the Nation" Sunday, saying that he believes Paul's views are "isolationist policies."

But Paul said he was hardly suggesting that the U.S. stand by and do nothing.

"I support continuing our assistance to the government of Iraq, which include armaments and intelligence. I support using advanced technology to prevent [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] from becoming a threat. I also want to stop sending U.S. aid and arms to Islamic rebels in Syria who are allied with ISIS, something Perry doesn't even address. I would argue that if anything, my ideas for this crisis are both stronger, and not rooted simply in bluster," he wrote. "If the governor continues to insist that these proposals mean I'm somehow 'ignoring ISIS,' I'll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry's opinions."

He also revived Perry's words during a primary debate in the 2012 presidential election, when the Texas governor said he would send troops back into Iraq.

"I ask Governor Perry: How many Americans should send their sons or daughters to die for a foreign country -- a nation the Iraqis won't defend for themselves? How many Texan mothers and fathers will Governor Perry ask to send their children to fight in Iraq?" Paul wrote.

Paul had previously lobbed that critique at Perry after the Post op-ed. Perry responded on "Face the Nation," saying, "The idea that I'm for opening up the gates and sending multiple numbers of American troops back into harm's way is a bit of a stretch."

The back-and-forth is just the latest manifestation of an internal GOP debate over America's role in the world. Both sides claim the mantle of former President Ronald Reagan. Perry argued in his initial op-ed that Paul, "conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity." In his latest missive, Paul insists that too many in his party get it wrong when it comes to Reagan.

"Strength does not always mean war. Reagan ended the Cold War without going to war with Russia. He achieved a relative peace with the Soviet Union--the greatest existential threat to the United States in our history--through strong diplomacy and moral leadership," he wrote.

The attacks are certainly growing more personal. Perry has called Paul "curiously blind" to national security threats posed by western fighters who have joined jihadists in Syria and says his views will "compound the threat of terrorism even further."

In addition to the knock on Perry's glasses, Paul writes that the Texas governor "seems entirely comfortable repeating the history, the rhetoric, and presumably, the mistakes" of Iraq and that he, "couldn't be more stuck in the past."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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