As the marquee lineup of Republicans delivered their vapid primetime addresses last night, I spotted none other than former New York City mayor and hilariously-failed 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on the convention floor, sitting amongst the New York delegation, greeting well-wishers and cheerily taking in the atmosphere. He was flanked by husky bodymen who provided Giuliani & Associates business cards to all who requested them.
So I approached Giuliani, bearing in mind an incident from Ron Paul's "Rally for Liberty" on Sunday, at which a montage of Serious pundits and politicos trashing the Texas Congressman was shown on a projection screen. Rush Limbaugh, David Frum and Chris Wallace were all subject to prodigious boos (Jon Stewart was heartily cheered), but the loudest angry roar came in reaction to a December 2011 clip of Giuliani dismissing Paul as a “complete distraction.” I informed Giuliani that he was the most reviled villain at the rally, and he assumed that another clip was what provoked the response:
"I imagine it was when I was criticizing him for basically blaming America for the September 11 attacks," Giuliani told me. "I thought that was a rather ignorant statement by Ron Paul. And I find his domestic policies very similar to my own, but I find his view of foreign policy dangerous." Here Giuliani harkened all the way back to a formative moment at a May 2007 GOP presidential primary debate, when he called on Paul to retract his comment that “blowback” resulting from U.S. foreign policy misadventures was a contributing cause of 9/11.
During Paul's Last Hurrah address on Sunday, he made a remark that I interpreted at the time as another indirect dig at Giuliani, as if some years-long narrative had come full circle: "Somebody rather nastily said on the internet,” Paul recalled, “they said, oh yeah, if those Paul People had been in charge, Osama bin Laden would still be alive. But you know what I think the answer is? So would the 3,000 people from 9/11 be alive! So would the 8,500 Americans who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- they would be alive as well!”
One could just imagine the vile sneer emerging across Rudy's face.
So last night I informed him that the "complete distraction" clip was in fact what prompted the "blowback" on Sunday amongst Paul's flock. Did he stand by that charge?
"Absolutely," Giuliani affirmed. "I think his view on foreign policy is unrealistic in the era in which we live. I don't think we have the choice to be non-interventionist. The world is a world economy," he said, speaking directly into my recording device as if to signal a point of emphasis. "If America becomes non-interventionist, we ruin our economy. And I think his inability to see that, to understand that, makes him a distraction."
I tried to ask a followup, but Rudy had tired of the subject. "That's enough on him," the mayor said. "Thank you. I want to listen to the speech. He's not the nominee."