Continuing to bash Newt Gingrich as a “serial hypocrite,” Texas Rep. Ron Paul is now pointing out that despite the former House speaker’s tough stance on foreign policy, he avoided the draft during the Vietnam War.
During Gingrich’s concession speech on Tuesday evening after the Iowa caucuses, he launched into an attack on Paul, calling his non-interventionist foreign policy “stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States.”
“I’m the dangerous person?” Paul responded in a CNN interview Wednesday. “When Newt Gingrich was called to service in the 1960s during the Vietnam era, guess what he thought about danger? He chickened out on that, he got deferments and didn’t even go.”
Paul said that “right now, he sends those young kids over there to endure the danger… Some people call that kind of a program a chickenhawk and I think he falls into that category.”
The libertarian congressman boasts more donations from military members than any other 2012 presidential candidate. The claim was determined “true” by Politifact, after the fact-checking group looked at Federal Election Commission filings.
Gingrich has admitted that avoiding the draft may not have been a good idea in retrospect. “A large part of me thinks I should have gone over,” he confessed in 1985.
But, Gingrich told the Wall Street Journal over two decades ago, “Part of the question I had to ask myself was what difference I would have made.”
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Paul served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard in the late ‘60s. Mitt Romney, the current Republican front-runner — and the victor in Iowa by a small margin over Rick Santorum and Paul — like Gingrich received draft deferments during the Vietnam War.
The issue of Vietnam draft deferments raged for decades in presidential elections featuring Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who both avoided military service in Vietnam. The perennial controversy died in 2008, when Barack Obama, too young to serve, ran against war hero John McCain.