Most Republicans agree: Major changes are needed if the party wants to be competitive in future presidential elections. But a new poll of Republicans nationwide also indicates that there's little agreement on the direction the GOP should take.
That's playing out in the fireballs between Christie and Paul: The New Jersey governor represents the more traditional establishment wing of the party, with Paul the standard-bearer for the libertarian and grassroots conservative/tea party wing.
With losses in the last two presidential elections still stinging, two-thirds of Republicans questioned in the Pew Research Center poll say that the GOP needs to address major problems to do better in future presidential contests.
Three in 10 disagree, saying the party just needs to address minor problems. Along those lines, nearly six in 10 say the party needs to reconsider some positions, with 36% saying the GOP needs to make a stronger case for its current policies.
But there's less agreement on what the path the party should take.
By 54%-40% margin, Republican and Republican-leaning voters say party leaders should move in a more conservative direction, with four in 10 urging a more moderate direction.
"Not surprisingly, conservatives and those who agree with the tea party overwhelmingly favor moving in a more conservative direction, while moderates and liberals would like to see the party take more centrist positions. Yet the more moderate wing of the party is a minority generally, and makes up an even smaller share of the likely primary electorate," Pew said in releasing the poll.
King said that ensures a "spirited debate" in the months ahead. "They have to deal with the immigration issue again. They have that ditch with Latino voters. Taxes and spending."
4. Chris Christie doesn't pull punches
Yes, we knew this. But this episode reminds us of how blunt Christie can be.
While Paul seemed on Wednesday to be trying to bring the scuffle to an end, Christie held his ground.
"At the end of the day, I didn't call him any names, yet he called me names," Christie said in his radio interview Wednesday. "I just have to assume from that that he's just trying to get attention."
Christie was talking about his initial comments that sparked the feud, adding: "It really had nothing to do with Senator Paul, but Senator Paul wanted to make it about Senator Paul," Christie added.
Christie speaks his mind, which appeals to voters, and not just Republicans. While Paul has a higher favorable rating among Republicans than Christie, according to the Pew poll, Christie has crossover appeal with Independents and Democrats that Paul can't match.
5. Did Paul go there?
Paul accused Christie of harming national security by hoarding federal relief money for Superstorm Sandy victims. Christie responded by calling on Paul to cut federal pork spending in Kentucky.
"But I doubt he would because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get re-elected," Christie charged on Tuesday.
Paul responded later in the day on "The Situation Room," saying, "This is the king of bacon talking about bacon."
Was there more to Paul's "bacon" comment than just pork spending?
Paul advisers say it had nothing to do with Christie's weight, which was an issue when he first ran for governor in 2009. While it's not a problem for Christie as he appears to cruise towards re-election, it will most definitely come up again and again if he opts to run for the White House.