I was really hoping Newt Gingrich would take the gloves off and hammer Mitt Romney, but alas. It seems he has gotten over his sadness over Mean Mitt and decided to play nice just like the rest of them who appear to have reached consensus that Mitt Romney is the Nominee Apparent. However, that didn't stop Ron Paul and Newtie from going personal with each other, and boy did they.
The kerfuffle seems to begin with an interview Ron Paul gave to CNN earlier this week, where he came right out with it and called Gingrich a chickenhawk. (Video) Diane Sawyer asked Dr. Paul if he stood by his comment. He did, and when asked whether he'd say it on the debate stage, he was happy to oblige. Suffice it to say, Newtie didn't take it well. Not at all.
This is one area where I agree with Ron Paul. Far too many politicians want to send our young people off to fight wars when they haven't served and really don't have a clue about what a sacrifice it really is. For all of Newt's righteous indignation, it was clear the punch landed and landed hard. As it should.
I will give Newt this much. Being in a military family is its own kind of sacrifice. It's hard, whether a spouse or a child, to wonder if your parent is going to come home safely and be the same parent they were before they left. It's hard never to put down roots and to live on the salaries paid to our troops. This is why Michelle Obama works so hard on behalf of military families -- she knows it's a difficult haul. He's right about all of that, but it doesn't serve as a substitute for service itself.
The transcript follows after the jump, via Washington Post.
SAWYER: Congressman Paul, would you say that again? Would you -- would you use that phrase again?
PAUL: Yeah. I -- I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments aren’t -- they -- they have no right to send our kids off to war, and -- and not be even against the wars that we have. I’m trying to stop the wars, but at least, you know, I went when they called me up.
But, you know, the -- the veterans’ problem is a big one. We have hundreds of thousands coming back from these wars that were undeclared, they were unnecessary, they haven’t been won, they’re unwinnable, and we have hundreds of thousands looking for care. And we have an epidemic of suicide coming back. And so many have -- I mean, if you add up all the contractors and all the wars going on, Afghanistan and in Iraq, we’ve lost 8,500 Americans, and severe injuries, over 40,000. And these are undeclared war.
So, Rick keeps say we -- you don’t want this libertarian stuff, but what I’m talking about, I don’t bring up the word. You do. But I talk about the Constitution. Constitution has rules. And I don’t like it when we send our kids off to fight these wars, and when those individuals didn’t go themselves, and then come up and when they’re asked, they say, oh, I don’t think I could -- one person could have made a difference.
I have a pet peeve that annoys me to a great deal, because when I see these young men coming back, my heart weeps for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich?
GINGRICH: Well, Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for deferment. I was married with a child. It was never a question. My father was, in fact, serving in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta at the time he’s referring to.
I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed. And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with.
PAUL: I need one quick follow-up. When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went.
GINGRICH: I wasn’t eligible for the draft. I wasn’t eligible for the draft.