Update: The New York Daily News, which has run a series of covers that are very tough on Republicans during this campaign, went big with Giuliani's 9/11 omission on Tuesday morning, pasting his words on top of an exploding World Trade Center. "Rudy's most pathetic politicizing of 9/11 yet," the paper declares.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 16, 2016
CNN, meanwhile, offered it's own fact check, titled, "Giuliani wrong about terror attacks and Obama." As I wrote Monday, though, Giuliani didn't actually forget 9/11 in his comments before Donald Trump's speech on Monday.
There was a time in his political career when Rudy Giuliani talked about 9/11 so much that Joe Biden famously said of him that there were "only three things he mentions in a sentence: A noun, a verb and 9/11."
But on Monday, while introducing Donald Trump and Mike Pence at a speech in Ohio, Giuliani almost seemed to forget the event that so defined his time as New York mayor. "Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States," he said. "They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office."
The 9/11 attacks occurred early in President George W. Bush's tenure — during his first year in office — but clearly within the eight-year time span that Giuliani was referencing. Some immediately labeled Giuliani's remark a gaffe — a thoroughly ironic gaffe, given his frequent mentions of 9/11 during the 2008 presidential campaign.
"Giuliani forgets about 9/11, claims no terror attacks before Obama," the New York Daily News wrote.
Rudy Giuliani hates Obama so much he forgot about 9/11. https://t.co/QR3JSpXmSc
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 15, 2016
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) August 15, 2016
Except that Giuliani didn't forget about 9/11. He actually talked about it shortly before the "eight years" comment.
Pence "was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees — and during the time of September 11th, when we went through the worst foreign attack in our history since the War of 1812," Giuliani said. "Remember: We didn't start this war; they did. We don't want this war; they do. And they didn't start it even in 2001. They attacked the World Trade Center in 1993."
Here's the video:
Here’s longer clip that includes context around Rudy’s “before Obama came along” remark. He was talking post-9/11. https://t.co/pzYxPIY0KE
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) August 15, 2016
If Giuliani is guilty of anything for his "eight years" comment, it's of being imprecise and glossing over 9/11 while making the case that terrorist attacks have increased under Obama. (He also glosses over a terrorist attack at the Los Angeles airport in 2002, for the record.) The fact that 9/11 occurred on Bush's watch certainly undermines Giuliani's central point. But he was basically making the case that every other Republican would about Bush's record vs. Obama's — that Bush got it right after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
What's perhaps most notable about that argument, though, is that Donald Trump isn't really a subscriber.
Giuliani's comments are actually pretty diametrically opposed to what Trump has said previously in this campaign. While Giuliani was basically giving the previous GOP administration kudos for preventing further terrorist attacks and contrasting that with the Obama administration's record, Trump all but blamed Bush for 9/11 during the primary.
“You always have to look to the person at the top,” Trump told The Washington Post in October, when he was running against Bush's brother Jeb for the GOP nomination. “Do I blame George Bush? I only say that he was the president at the time, and you know, you could say the buck stops here.”
Also: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that," Trump said in February.
And: "The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe. ... The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton [didn't] kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him. And George Bush — by the way, George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn't listen to the advice of his CIA."
Giuliani was offering the period under the Bush administration as an example of a more peaceful time in which Islamist terrorists didn't successfully attack the United States. Trump has painted a very different picture.