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Ron Paul gets some revenge

January 3, 2008 |  9:52 pm

An easily overlooked aspect of the Iowa caucuses -- Ron Paul not only besting Rudy Giuliani, but doing so by more than 2-to-1 -- sparked a trip down memory lane for us.

It was mid-May, and the former mayor of New York was riding high following one of the early debates among the Republican presidential candidates. The primo sound bite had been a snap to identify: Giuliani's outraged, impassioned reply to Paul's assertion that U.S. foreign policy, especially the periodic bombing of Iraq in the aftermath of 1991's Gulf War, was to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Giuliani, not waiting to be called upon, seized the moment by terming Paul's comment "an extraordinary statement" and urging the Texas congressman to retract it (which Paul did not).

To give Paul his due, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 -- when the emotional response to the assault was at its rawest -- serious scholars had begun hashing over the role played by American policy in the Mideast, particularly long-standing support for Israel, in fueling Islamic extremism and hatred for the U.S. But in the format of a candidate debate -- where rhetorical zingers count far more than lengthy discourse -- Paul's remark amounted to a grooved fast ball down the middle, and the consensus at the time was that Giuliani parked it.

As MSNBC's online political note put it at the time, Giuliani may want to "hire out Paul for the campaign trail -- he could be the Washington Generals to Rudy's Globetrotters" (i.e., the patsy willing to get beaten in every game).

That was then, this is now. In Iowa, Paul, 10%; Giuliani, 4%.

-- Don Frederick

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