WASHINGTON - Comedian and activist Jon Stewart proclaimed Wednesday that he will "escalate" a feud with Sen. Rand Paul after the Kentucky Republican voted against a bill that would reauthorize a fund that compensates victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Stewart, who has repeatedly advocated for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, said Paul was "disingenuous" in his stated reasons for delaying a vote on the bill, and called the senator a "scallawag and a ragamuffin."
Last Wednesday, Paul delayed a vote for the bill because he objected to the projected cost of the legislation. The Kentucky senator also voted against the bill this week, which pased in the Senate by a 97-2 vote. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also voted against it.
During an interview with CNN Wednesday, Stewart said that Paul could have had a conversation about "fiscal responsibility" at any point ahead of last week's planned vote.
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"Don't do it on the eve of these people's hopes and dreams of finally putting this behind them," he said. "This was not the moment. And it's disingenuous to suggest that that's all you were doing, especially when you vote against the bill."
Stewart and 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund advocate John Feal, who was also present for the CNN interview, said that they reached out to schedule a meeting with Paul's office several times, to no avail.
Sergio Gor, Paul's deputy chief of staff, said in a statement to the Washington Post that Stewart never reached out to the senator's office and that members of Feal's organization met with Paul's staff.
"He is a liar and a demagogue who has revealed himself as nothing more than a disheveled charlatan," Gor said of Stewart in the statement provided to the Post
Feal also said Wednesday that Paul could "debate us anytime."
"I'd love to debate you on the merits of this bill," he continued. "And you have your merits and I'll take mine."
"And you could show up, if you want," Feal said, turning to Stewart.
"I won't show up. He called me a guttersnipe," Stewart replied.
Last week, Paul criticized the comedian as a "guttersnipe" during an interview with Fox News.
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"People need to wake up and not be so, sort of overwhelmed by celebrity that they take out-and-out falsehoods and ad hominem attacks from - really a guttersnipe like Jon Stewart," Paul said.
"I have a mind to call him a scalawag and a ragamuffin," Stewart said. "I'll escalate this."
"What he said was, this isn't about blocking the bill. I think it's a good bill. It's about fiscal responsibility. Well, he said he raised the same objection to the tax cut, but he voted for that."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jon Stewart: Sen. Rand Paul is 'a scalawag and a ragamuffin'