Ron Paul is currently ranking second in Iowa, and has a shot at winning the state if he can beat back current frontrunner Newt Gingrich. To try to knock Gingrich out of the way, he’s going negative.
Paul has been going after Gingrich in TV ads up in the state which paint him as an insider who profited off years in Washington. But Thursday, ahead of the last debate before the caucuses, Paul cranked out an attack that hadn’t yet been used in this cycle. On Fox News, Paul bashed his opponent’s his military record:
There was one other issue I personally found annoying. He’s probably as aggressive with the military as anybody. He supports all the wars in Middle East. A thousand times more than if I would. But in the 1960s when he was drafted he got several deferments. He chose not to go. But he will send our kids to war. He said one person wouldn’t make a difference. He didn’t know how he could make a difference. I see that as important information. People should know that and it reflects on him.
Though it’s the first time a rival has explicitly raised it in this cycle, it is an attack that Gingrich has dealt with before. He opted not to go to Vietnam through deferments he obtained because of his status as a student (at Tulane University) and as a father. In 1985, he told the Wall Street Journal that, “Given everything I believe in, a large part of me thinks I should have gone over.”
Military records are great opposition material during elections, but they’re generally saved for the general election. Paul is pulling out all the stops. And with signs Newt is slipping in Iowa, it looks like they’re working.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.