The battle between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) for the 2016 Republican nomination is already underway – but for now, it’s a proxy battle about the National Rifle Association. After Christie ripped the NRA for an ad targeting President Obama over his hypocritical support for armed security for his daughters and opposition to armed security in other schools, Paul shot back: “I think criticizing the Second Amendment movement and the other over-the-top ‘give me my money’ stuff, ‘I want all $60 billion now or I’ll throw a tantrum,’ I don’t think that’s going to play well in the Republican primary.”
Paul added, “You have some Republicans backing down like Christie backing down and criticizing the NRA, and I think that doesn’t do any good … I think he may be solidifying his support with Democrats in New Jersey and maybe liberal Republicans.”
Paul will undoubtedly have a strong base of support from which to draw in 2016; Christie is aiming for the same left side of the party that supported John McCain in 2008. Paul is certainly setting himself up as a Tea Party favorite – and by opposing Christie now, he helps cut him off when Christie makes his inevitable move to the right in preparation for 2016.