The intra-party squabble between New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his fellow Republican, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, got personal this week. After Governor Christie called Paul’s libertarian foreign policy “dangerous,” Paul shot back with his own political analysis of Christie’s brand of conservatism. “They’re precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme – give me all my Sandy money now,’” Paul told the Associated Press, “those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.”
Then it got ugly.
Paul’s statements aroused Christie’s notorious temper and he fired back at the “Washington politician.”
“So if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he’s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking at cutting the pork barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky, at $1.51 for every $1.00 and not look at New Jersey, where we get $0.61 for every $1.00. So maybe Senator Paul could — could, you know, deal with that when he’s trying to deal with the reduction of spending on the federal side…But I doubt he would, because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get reelected.”
Then, in an interview with CNN on Tuesday evening, Paul called Governor Christie… the “king of bacon.”
This exchange could very well be a prelude to the 2016 Republican presidential primary, if Christie and Paul decide to run. A look back at previous political mudslinging may give us an idea of what to expect in 2016.
“He Was Born With A Silver Foot In His Mouth”
Former Democratic Texas governor Ann Richards gained notoriety at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, where she delivered a keynote speech that made her a national political figure, on her way to winning the 1990 Texas gubernatorial election.
What made her speech so memorable was a direct insult of the Republican presidential nominee, George H.W. Bush.
“Poor George, he can’t help it,” Richards said at the DNC in Atlanta. “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
“Senator, You’re No Jack Kennedy”
In the 1988 vice-presidential debate, Democratic nominee Lloyd Bentsen made one of the more memorable political quips in recent history. Bentsen was well into his sixties by the time he made the 1988 Democratic ticket with Michael Dukakis. During the debate, Bentsen’s counterpart, the young Dan Quayle, was explaining why he thought he had enough experience to serve as vice president, despite his tender age.
“I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president this country,” Quayle said. “I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”
In a calm and composed manner, Bentsen responded: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
“I Am Not Going To Exploit…My Opponent’s Youth And Inexperience”
President Ronald Reagan was over 70 years old by the time he was up for re-election in 1984. Rumors regarding Reagan’s advanced age and poor health began to swirl in the campaign.
But Reagan put the issue to rest in the second presidential debate, with a clever quip that drove his point home.
Henry Trewhitt of the Baltimore Sun asked, “You already are the oldest president in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?”
“Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt… and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
“A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11”
Vice President Joe Biden earned laughs from the audience at a 2007 Democratic presidential primary debate with an insult lodged at former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. When asked to respond to Giuliani’s statements regarding Democrats’ lack of “executive experience,” Biden responded that Giuliani is “probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency,” before unleashing a zinger:
“Rudy Giuliani — there’s only three things he [needs] to make … a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11.”
“This Guy Just Isn’t Bright”
Rudy Giuliani is no stranger to making personal attacks on his Democratic counterparts. In response to Vice President Joe Biden’s statements about Wall Street “trying to put [people] back in chains,” Rudy Giuliani said the vice president “isn’t bright.” In an August 2012 interview on CNBC, Giuliani said about Biden: “I mean, there’s a real fear if — God forbid — he ever had to be entrusted with the presidency, whether he really has the mental capacity to handle it. …This guy just isn’t bright, he’s never been bright, he isn’t bright.”
In a single off-the-cuff remark, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi revealed her attitude toward outgoing Minnesota representative, and former presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann.
After the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep. Bachmann issued an impassioned statement attacking the Court’s decision.
“This decision is one that is profound because the Supreme Court not only attacked our Constitution today, they not only attacked the equal protection rights of every citizen under our Constitution, they attacked something that they have no jurisdiction over whatsoever, the foundational unit of our society, which is marriage,” Bachmann said at a press conference.
When asked about Bachmann’s response to the decision, Pelosi’s own response was much more to the point: “Who cares?” she asked with a dismissive shrug.
Photo: mbell1975 via Flickr