WASHINGTON (JTA) — A reference by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul to unfair treatment of Palestinians as a cause for terrorist attacks on the United States received the loudest boos at a Republican Tea Party debate.
Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator and one of eight candidates vying for the GOP nomination, attacked Paul during Monday’s debate for a blog post in which Paul cast the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as resulting in part from U.S. foreign policy.
"The president of the United States — someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican Party, should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11," Santorum said to applause at the debate co-sponsored by CNN and Tea Party Express, one of several umbrella groups for the small government movement that was launched after President Obama’s election in 2008 and which helped return the GOP to a congressional majority in 2010.
Paul (R-Texas), who has long advocated for a reduced U.S. profile overseas, countered that "Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment."
The reference to the Palestinians drew loud boos, and Paul, seeming startled, added, "I didn’t say that. I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing."
Paul is closely identified with the Tea Party movement because of his policies on limited government, which go beyond the other candidates. For example, he wants to abolish the departments of education and energy, and dismantle entitlement programs.
However, the movement has not embraced to the same degree the isolationism espoused by Paul and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).