NBC: 'Republican Family Feud' Between Christie and Paul 'Exposed Deep Divisions' in GOP

After a tease of upcoming coverage of the Anthony Weiner sex scandal, on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer tried to make the news of political controversy bipartisan:  "Republicans are facing a few issues of their own, highlighted by a war of words between Chris Christie and Rand Paul." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Introducing the report, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie announced a "heated feud" between the two Republicans, followed by correspondent Peter Alexander proclaiming: "A Republican family feud growing nastier by the sound bite." As the headline on screen declared a "war of words," Alexander asserted: "The fight has exposed deep divisions within the party on national security and federal spending."

Rather than cover the issues being debated by Christie and Paul, from government surveillance to out-of-control spending, Alexander simply stirred the pot between the political rivals, suggesting it was "a possible preview of things to come in 2016."

Wrapping up the segment, Alexander explained:

And this fight isn't just about two strong personalities. It also highlights the stark contrast of competing ideologies within the Republican Party right now, Savannah. The Tea Party on one side, more establishment conservatives on the other, really with the future direction of the GOP at stake.

Turning to Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, Guthrie framed the exchange between Christie and Paul as a fight for "the heart of the Republican Party." Gregory predicted "a big fight in the party....a big split about the role of government."


Here is a full transcript of the July 31 segment:

7:02AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Meantime, Republicans are facing a few issues of their own, highlighted by a war of words between Chris Christie and Rand Paul. We'll get into all of that with NBC's David Gregory coming up in just a couple of minutes.

7:06AM ET SEGMENT:
 
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: A heated feud on the Republican side between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. NBC's Peter Alexander is at the White House with that story. Peter, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: War of Words; Chris Christie and Rand Paul in GOP Showdown]

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. These two men have been mixing it up for days and the way that Chris Christie and Rand Paul have been trading words recently has many people convinced that the 2016 Republican presidential campaign is well underway.

RAND PAUL [SEN. R-KY]: This is the king of bacon talking about bacon.

ALEXANDER: The latest in this political beef is about pork. A Republican family feud growing nastier by the sound bite. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul...

PAUL: Governor Christie and others have been part of this "Gimme, gimme, gimme. Give me all this money."

ALEXANDER: ...versus New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

CHRIS CHRISTIE [GOV. R-NJ]: Maybe he should start looking at the pork barrel spending that he brings home to Kentucky.

ALEXANDER: The fight has exposed deep divisions within the party on national security and federal spending. The first jab thrown last Thursday, with Christie bashing libertarian-leaning lawmakers like Paul, who oppose some NSA surveillance programs...

PAUL: I think we've come a long way from where we began.

ALEXANDER: ...by references the victims of 9/11.

CHRISTIE: I mean, these esoteric, intellectual debates, I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won't.

ALEXANDER: Paul fired back on Fox News.

PAUL: It's really, I think, kind of sad and cheap that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, "Oh, I'm the only one who cares about these victims." Hogwash.

ALEXANDER: On Tuesday, Christie swatted away his rival's attack.

CHRISTIE: His response seems that he has something personal against me. But that's okay, just get in line on that front.

ALEXANDER: Both Republicans sharpening their elbows. A possible preview of things to come in 2016.

And this fight isn't just about two strong personalities. It also highlights the stark contrast of competing ideologies within the Republican Party right now, Savannah. The Tea Party on one side, more establishment conservatives on the other, really with the future direction of the GOP at stake.

GUTHRIE: Peter Alexander at the White House. Thank you. Let's bring David Gregory back in on that very point. You have two colorful characters, they both have a way with words, shall we say, both potential contenders for 2016, but this really is about the heart of the Republican Party and the direction it wants to go.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: War of Words; Chris Christie and Rand Paul in GOP Showdown]  

DAVID GREGORY: Yeah, look, there's going to be a big fight in the party, in part going back to 2012, saying, "See, we didn't have somebody who was sufficiently conservative in Mitt Romney and therefore we lost." There's going to be a lot of people in the party who are saying that. This is going to be a big split about the role of government. Whether it's spending and taxes, or the more libertarian streak in the Republican Party, represented by Rand Paul and others, who are fighting against these surveillance programs and other things. And that was where the fight started, over national security. Chris Christie is going to be much more traditional as a strong national security hawk within the Republican Party.

GUTHRIE: Alright. David Gregory, great to get your take on a couple of political stories this morning. Thank you very much.

GREGORY: Thanks, Savannah.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC