ABC News’ Nitya Venkataraman and Nancy Flores report: While his 2008 rivals in Washington, D.C. spent the morning in congressional panels debating the future of US involvement in Iraq, GOP Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul charged the U.S. has "dug a hole for [itself]" in Iraq, and simultaneously defended his anti-war place in the Republican party and jabbed the current administration saying, "you don’t have to be a war monger to be a conservative."
At a policy forum at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., Paul described Iraq as a "preemptive war" saying it was a "planned invasion and occupation" of a "country that was no threat to us whatsoever."
What might seem like bold rhetoric from the fiery Texas Republican on the anniversary of a historic day is actually nothing new for Paul. His assertions at the forum were consistent with his presidential platform and congressional career, both of which draw heavily from libertarian and constitutionalist ideals.
Though a lesser known candidate in the GOP’s 2008 pool, Paul’s swell of grassroots and web-savvy supporters, strict anti-abortion philosophies, and challenges to party dogma surrounding the war, fuel fire and debate in the conservative spectrum.
In fact, Paul’s most recent headline-garnering 9/11 remarks in May were revisited Tuesday.
During a May Republican presidential debate in South Carolina Paul made headlines when he linked the September 11th attacks to previous United States involvement in the Middle East. "They attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years." Paul said.
Paul suggested "we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it."
At the time, Rudy Giuliani pounced on Paul’s comments, calling them "extraordinary" and demanding a retraction.
Paul stood his ground in the debate, putting himself on the anti-war map, "If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem."
Today, when asked to clarify who was to blame for the 9/11 attacks, Paul blamed " bad policy", but said the "ultimate responsibility fell on the people who committed the crime."