Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are clashing over 9/11 again, this time in Kentucky.
Today, Giuliani endorsed the primary opponent of Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul, in the high-profile Kentucky Republican Senate primary. In endorsing Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Giuliani fired some shots at Rand, perhaps stirred by a 2007 confrontation with his father over the 9/11 attacks.
Ron Paul, in turn, has fired back.
In a long statement released by Grayson's campaign this morning, Giuliani praised Grayson as "not part of the 'blame America first' crowd"--a reference to Ron Paul's sentiment that al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks because of America's interventionist foreign policy. Giuliani took offense to Paul's statements about 9/11 during a 2007debate.
Here's Giuliani's statement:
"Trey Grayson is the candidate in this race who will make the right decisions necessary to keep America safe and prevent more attacks on our homeland. He is not part of the 'blame America first' crowd that wants to bestow the rights of U.S. citizens on terrorists and point fingers at America for somehow causing 9/11," Giuliani said.
He continued, "Kentucky needs a Senator who understands the threat posed by our enemies abroad. I witnessed firsthand the destruction and loss of life our enemies can cause. Like me, Trey Grayson knows we must stay on offense against terrorism, and he supports using all the essential tools we have in that fight, including monitoring the conversations and activities of suspected foreign terrorists as allowed by the Patriot Act. He is a fresh face that Republicans can trust to best represent their values - both on national security and fiscal responsibility - in Washington. Kentuckians could not elect a better Senator than Trey Grayson."
Ron Paul responded in a fundraising e-mail to his supporters, announcing that Giuliani is "slithering" into his son's race. From the e-mail:
The Neo-Con establishment is pulling out all the stops to beat Rand.
First, Dick Cheney endorsed his opponent. Next, Rick Santorum. And today, Mr. Big Government Republican himself is slithering into the race.
That's right. Rudy Giuliani has stuck his beak into Rand's race, endorsing his opponent and blaming Rand for being part of the "blame America" crowd. Disgusting.
Paul included a video link to his own dispute over 9/11 with Giuliani during the presidential primary debate, in which Paul asked the Fox moderator, "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there, we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years, we've been in the Middle East" and "What would we say here if China was doing this in our country, or in the Gulf of Mexico?" Giuliani asked Paul to take back his statement; Paul didn't, and instead repeated his sentiments:
Grayson began airing TV ads criticizing Paul for wanting to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay remarking that terrorist suspects should be sent back to Afghanistan:
Paul fired back with an ad that accused Grayson of exploiting 9/11 for political gain. (UPDATE: As a reader notes below, Paul criticized the decision to close Guantanamo and try detainees in civilian courts, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced it.) "Trey, Grayson, your shameful TV ad is a lie, and it dishonors you," Paul says in the ad:
Kentucky has become a marquee primary for conservatives, second in national attention only to Florida's race between Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist. Paul is a favorite of Tea Partiers nationwide, while Grayson has the endorsement of establishment Republicans, most prominently Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's most powerful politician. An average of major polls currently shows Paul leading by 15 percentage points.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.