Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) will travel to New Jersey next week to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Steve Lonegan, but Gov. Chris Christie (R) won't be there to greet him.
Christie announced Tuesday that he plans to go away with his wife for her birthday instead of joining Paul at a rally to boost Lonegan in the state's Oct. 16 special U.S. Senate election. Paul, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, is traveling to the Garden State in an effort to boost Lonegan, a tea party favorite who has been trailing Democrat Cory Booker in the polls.
Lonegan's campaign described the Paul event, which will be held at a banquet hall in the suburban Union County community of Clark, as a "Liberty and Victory Rally." Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota, N.J., spent seven years as the head of the New Jersey chapter of the Koch brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity, and has been endorsed by Christie and New Jersey's Republican establishment in the race.
Christie said Tuesday in a video posted on his state YouTube channel that he plans to skip the Paul rally. The move comes weeks after Christie, also a possible 2016 presidential candidate, publicly feuded with Paul on a series of domestic and foreign policy issues. The back-and-forth included Paul accusing Christie of being focused on government spending, while Christie described Paul's foreign policy views as "dangerous."
In the YouTube clip, Christie said he made the decision to skip the Paul event because he wanted to celebrate the 50th birthday of his wife, Mary Pat. Christie said he planned to take his wife away for the weekend and could not make the event. Christie, who is known to keep the details of his family life private, did not disclose where he'll go on the vacation.
"In a choice between Mary Pat Christie and Rand Paul, it's no choice, I'll be with Mary Pat," Christie said.
Christie's decision comes as he is being challenged by Democrat Barbara Buono in his bid for a second term. Buono, who has been trailing Christie in the polls, has criticized Christie's support for Lonegan, saying he's too conservative for New Jersey. Christie last week distanced himself from Lonegan's comments regarding Booker's sexual orientation.