Should the GOP be more conservative or libertarian?

Battle for 2016 GOP nomination heats up between Chris Christie, Rand Paul


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," July 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: With an eye on 2016, one question looms large for the GOP. Should the party be more conservative or libertarian?

The standard bearers of those two positions look to be Chris Christie and Rand Paul at the moment.

The New Jersey governor was asked about national security and he fired this shot.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: This strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought. President Obama has done nothing to change the policies of the Bush administration in the war on terrorism and I mean practically nothing, and you know why? Because they work.

I love all these esoteric debates that are people are getting in.

JONATHAN MARTIN: Senator Rand Paul for example?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, you can name any number of people who engaged in it, and he's one of them.


PERINO: The Kentucky senator thought it fit to fire back. And he did so with this tweet. He said, quote, "Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional," end quote.

All right. Greg, I am going to start to you, because if we don't and if we get to this side of the table, you'll never get a word in edgewise.

So, can you tell me what your thoughts on this overall?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: What's that supposed to mean?



PERINO: Take it from me. I know.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: They're already mad.

PERINO: I know. It happens every day.

GUTFELD: I forfeit my spot to these guys any day.

PERINO: It happens -- do you have a point?

GUTFELD: Yes, I think this rift is the best thing that happened to the left and to President Obama. Greenwald was a genius because he has cleaved the adversaries. And instead of having a healthy debate, we're having one side accusing another of shredding the Constitution, the other side accusing them of being soft on terror.

What law enforcement does is embrace reasonableness. And this is what has to happen in this debate. You do a disservice to the citizens if you position yourself on the very edges of alarm. And the first casualty in a TV feud is reasonableness. We either talk about tyranny or we talk about terror from above. The point is you can have both.

You can -- that's the essence of reasonableness, what they talk about, what law enforcement talks about is reasonableness. It can happen.

What happened is we have these groups, and we're at fault for this. We put ourselves at the edge of every argument. Oh, my God, there's going to be another 9/11, oh, my God, you're shredding the Constitution. Actually, no -- just shut up, it is in the middle here.

PERINO: It's interesting because I think the mainstream media, Eric, would like us to have -- like Republicans to have to choose, you're either at this camp or you're in that camp. And actually, what we probably want in 2016 is a composite candidate made up of lots of different people. But your worlds collided between Rand and Christie and your thoughts on that.

BOLLING: My world did. And I just have to figure this out. So, the rule of law is no dangerous to Governor Christie. You lost a fan in me, sir, and anyone else that believes the Constitution is up for interpretation, especially by a governor, you can't interpret it your way. It was written. It's not living and breathing. It's written. It's a rule of law.

So, let me get this straight. Rand Paul is dangerous but President Obama and Carlos Danger are OK in your world right now. Governor, you said -- you look at people in the eye who've lost loved ones in the World Trade Center.

I was in the World Trade Center in '93 when the bombs went off. I watched the planes going into the World Trade Center in '01. I watched friends burn in the World Trade Center. I watched people jump out the window.

I think I have an idea what terrorism looks like, and it's not innocent Americans being data mined by the NSA. It's Islamic terrorists. Stick to them and we're all OK.

PERINO: So, now, you're not for Christie anymore.

BOLLING: I am done with him.

PERINO: Because you were with Christie --


BOLLING: I'm so done with him. Mark Levine warned me. He said, you're going to regret the minute you got behind this guy and you want -- I do, not for the reasons you're saying.

GUTFELD: Yes, I understand your compassion. Like you said, you have friends and everything and I think anybody who was in New York feels that way. But I don't think Christie -- Christie was talking specifically about data mining, and the fact is to find a needle, you need a hay stack.

The problem with Rand Paul is that he thinks the needles show up, like the needles came on September 11th. No, if you had the haystack before, you could have figured out where the needles are.

BOLLING: And also they know what they're going to do with the haystack when they find the needle.

PERINO: I agree.

GUTFELD: That's the question we all want. That would be --

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: So, can't this be -- it doesn't have to be either or discussion, right?

GUTFELD: Exactly.

TANTAROS: Why can't it be both? Why can't you have people like Chris Christie, a former U.S. attorney -- and this is what U.S. attorneys do, they want every good tool at their fingertip to be able to prosecute terrorists. And that is what Chris Christie did, right?

PERINO: I'm for finding them before the prosecution.

TANTAROS: Before, right?

The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to trip up prosecutors, to make sure government doesn't get too big. But what's wrong with people like Rand Paul saying, hold on, let's have a debate about civil liberties especially in the era of Obama?

I just say -- this to me was welcome to the 2016 primary. I think Christie was trying to differentiate himself politically as well from Rand Paul. This is his background. Paul has a different take.

And new polls show that Rand Paul is now leading in the Republican primary field. So --

PERINO: Let's ask Bob about that, because for 2016, do you believe -- I have two questions. First of all, do you believe they're putting their toe in the water for 2016? And also, what do you think the Republican mindset will be if you had to prognosticate to 2016? Will it be more conservative or libertarian when it comes down to voting?

BECKEL: Strain of libertarianism running through the Republican Party going back to Dwight Eisenhower, where in that, but into Barry Goldwater, it split -- enormous split in '64, the party was taken over by more libertarian forces against the forces of more moderate and conservative Republicans.

So, this is nothing new. It's becoming something brighter on the stage of politics because you have two people who are pretty good at what they do. You know, we haven't had a Rand Paul who is out and out libertarian in Congress for a long time.

So, he raises questions which have been there a long time.

PERINO: Who's that?

BOLLING: Who's that? We have Ron Paul.

BECKEL: No, no, but he was never taken seriously. This guy is taken seriously.

GUTFELD: Yes. There's a difference.

BOLLING: Can I point something out? We read, Dana, we read, is it going to be more conservative or libertarian, I think that's inaccurate. I think Rand Paul is conservative and libertarian and I think Chris Christie has lost his conservative creds over this and some of the other things he is doing with the Second Amendment in New Jersey.

PERINO: Do you think in this -- well, OK.

TANTAROS: But specifically relating to terrorism, I don't think you can say to Chris Christie lost his conservative credentials. I really don't. His record as U.S. attorney is pretty incredible. I know people are upset, because he was somewhat praising President Obama for following in the footsteps of Bush, but I guess I don't -- I don't really see it this way.

PERINO: I was surprised on the outreach today of how many people were, they don't like either of them. Some folks that I talked to, they maybe -- 2016 seems a little too far out for them, but they're thinking why aren't we talking about tax reform? Why aren't we talking about figuring out how to do -- bring more competitiveness into the health care system? Why aren't we focusing on entitlement reform? The types of things that conservatives typically will come to the ballot to vote for, nobody seems to be talking about.

Maybe it will be the Fourth Amendment, but I kind of doubt it.

BECKEL: I tell you one reason, if you listen to Rand Paul carefully, he continues to bring up Syria, as an opening shot across the bow, saying, do not do that, do not go to that country. Libertarians have for the most part been very, very reticent about committing U.S. troops overseas and for good reason. And there's always been a place for that debate.

The people like the neocons who were willing to go anywhere, anytime and do anything needed to have a force working against them, and the libertarians have done that.

PERINO: It's not only that, but they also have -- Greg, get back in here, you had a lot of liberals actually joining on the Syria piece and on NSA, both that happened this week. You had a lot of Democrats actually voted with a certain number of Republicans.

So, is there a new force building in politics?

GUTFELD: I mean, let's face it -- it kind of shook a lot of allegiances up. You had like Eric palling with Glenn Greenwald, which I never thought I would ever see. I mean, that would be like me moving in with a lemur, which I did for six months actually.

But no, you know, the interesting thing is like, how -- libertarians can embrace the idea of the NSA, the Verizon piece and the PRISM piece, because libertarians know that freedom requires force and force requires intel. You need intelligence. So, if America is a house, you got to make it a castle.

The sad thing that bothers me about this whole debate, then I'll shut up, in the old days, the right would be pissed off about the leaks. If there was a leak that made us vulnerable to our enemies, we would be pissed! But instead, we're pissed off with the government for lawful actions to protect our families.

BOLLING: Lawful --

GUTFELD: I know, we disagree on that. I believe that's lawful.

PERINO: How do you know it is unlawful?

GUTFELD: There's nothing unlawful about it.


BOLLING: No, no.


BOLLING: Where's the probable cause taking the information and data mining innocent --

PERINO: There's a difference between --

BOLLING: Can I point this out, we can do this again or we can something else? Dana, I know you're getting frustrated. But this is important.

PERINO: Excuse me?

BOLLING: On the Republican side, Chris Christie going there was a big mistake. They need to be uniting. There's a Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who are conservatives who are very similar but not fighting each other. They're not taking shots at each other. I don't think it was a good idea for Christie to do that.

BECKEL: Can I tell you -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

TANTAROS: I was just going to say, it actually is legal. The problem is, though, that technology has radically changed. So, people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy, I get that.

I think, though, Eric, the case should be we need to take it back to the courts. We give up our data. In Google, they have our Gmails. Facebook, they have our posts. We give it up every single day.

And I think people would be OK with a little data to catch a terrorist. But the problem is the technology has changed and this administration abuses it over and over and over.


BOLLING: And when you go into Google, you sign off, when you sign up for Google, you tell them you're OK with them doing what they're doing.

TANTAROS: What Greg is talking about was already decided upon on the Supreme Court. It is legal. I don't like it, but it is legal.

So, if you don't like it because of the technicalities of what they decided because technology has changed, go back to court. You're both right.

GUTFELD: That's the problem!


TANTAROS: You can both be right and have points here.

PERINO: So polite, raising your hand.

TANTAROS: Yes. Sorry, Bobby.

BECKEL: I want to tell a brief story. I was in a meeting with Barry Goldwater with President Carter. And that was when there was a leak at Jessie Helms operation about the Panama Canal Treaties and the Torrijos brothers being drug dealers.

Barry Goldwater, when I walked out with him. He's very supported to the president. I said, Senator, amazing you said it. He said, "Bob, remember something, we conservatives hate leaks like this," and what he threatened to do was go before the Senate if the leaks didn't stop and say he was for Panama Canal Treaties. And this was Barry Goldwater. I was absolutely struck by it.

PERINO: You know, I think, that Rand Paul will have a problem with, eventually, for example, the question of -- should we be more -- a country that is more isolationist? Should we mind our own business? We have nukes, it's OK if others have nukes.

I think that's a bridge too far for a lot of people on foreign policy, that they would say they're not able to go there.


GUTFELD: -- has changed. We are the size of a phone booth. Go ahead.

BECKEL: I was going to say, libertarian and isolationism are two different things. You know, you had Charles Lindbergh isolationism where you shouldn't go anywhere. Libertarians only go someplace if there's a clear and present danger to the United States.

TANTAROS: And that's where I support them. I think that's right. I think that's where they have the strongest argument.

People are tired of democracy promotion. They're tired of losing blood and treasure for these dumps like Afghanistan. And I do think the libertarian party is the pause button. That is where --

PERINO: I actually --

BECKEL: I have my summer home there!

PERINO: I disagree on that personally. I think we could have stayed and could have -- should have been there for the long haul for both Iraq and Afghanistan and that history won't be kind to the administration that decided to squander all of that.

BECKEL: I wonder who you're talking about.

PERINO: Who would that be?

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