Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday fended off criticism from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) after he mocked Paul for his campaign against former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R) and said “nobody cares” what the Kentucky senator has to say.
“Well, 10 million people viewed my opinion online, and that’s a few people. The governor of New Hampshire has less followers online than a small-town mayor in Kentucky,” Paul said in an interview on Newsmax’s “National Report.”
“So, you know, you can compare objectively the reach of my endorsement and the reach of his endorsement, but 10 million people viewed it on social media,” he continued.
Sununu endorsed Haley’s presidential bid and has been campaigning with the former South Carolina governor in his home state of New Hampshire and elsewhere. Haley has enjoyed a slight bump nationally in national polling in recent weeks, but she has performed exceptionally well in New Hampshire, which holds its primary next week.
According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s average of New Hampshire polls, Trump leads Haley by less than 10 percentage points — with 44.4 percent supporting Trump and 34.7 percent supporting Haley.
Nationally, Trump still leads by a wide margin in hypothetical polls on the GOP primary, with 62.2 percent support for Trump and 12.4 percent support for Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis follows with 10.5 percent.
Paul, in the interview, also doubled down on his anti-Haley position, stressing the fundamental policy differences he has with Haley, in particular on foreign policy matters.
“And I’m just telling my opinion, and the honest to God’s truth is that I think Nikki Haley represents the McConnell, Dick Cheney wing of the party,” Paul said, adding, “This is a battle that’s gone on in the Republican Party for a long time between the neo-cons and the liberty wing.”
Paul described Haley’s wing of the party as “those who think that we should always be involved and there’s no limit to military spending and intervention.”
“We think that that’s naive, expensive, bankrupts us and actually ultimately makes us weaker,” Paul said, about those in his anti-foreign intervention wing of the party. “That is the Nikki Haley wing of the party, and I’m dead set, and I’m a ‘Never Nikki.’”
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Paul’s comments come after Sununu, in an interview last week responding to Paul’s anti-Haley efforts, sharply criticized the Kentucky senator.
“I’m sorry, but nobody cares what Rand Paul thinks in this race. This race is in Iowa, in New Hampshire. It’s in South Carolina. She’s the only candidate that’s surging. We’ve made it effectively a one-on-one race at this point between Nikki and Donald Trump,” Sununu said.
“So with all due respect to the Senator, you know, maybe when the U.S. Senate actually starts doing something, and actually starts delivering some results, they can stand on a soapbox and think that their words matter, but until then, sorry, Rand Paul, nobody cares.”