ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf and Ed O’Keefe Report: Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., played with populist fire during the Republican debate Wednesday night.
Segueing from an unrelated topic, John McCain, who has staked his political career on his support for the surge in Iraq and fight against global Islamic terrorism, turned to Paul, who was standing to his left and addressed him directly.
Watch the video HERE.
"Congressman Paul, I’ve heard him now in many debates talk about brining our troops home and about the war in Iraq and how its failed and I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II. We allowed . . ."
McCain was obscured here by jeers and boos and cheers all at once from the crowed auditorium. Poor CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper had no chance against the audience.
But the Arizona Senator continued, "We allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude of isolationism and (Ron Paul is looking right at McCain and shaking his head ‘No’)
McCain: "And I want to tell you something sir, I just finished having Thanksgiving with the troops and their message to you is, the message of these brave men and women serving over there is, ‘Let us win. Let us win.’
Cheers mixed with jeers and boos and applause rose up all over again.
In a 30 second response, Paul, who recently raised $4 million exclusively from online contributors, calmly asked McCain, "The real question you have to ask is why do I get the most money from active duty officers, military personnel?"
"So what John is saying is just totally distorted. He doesn’t understand the difference between nonintervention and isolationism. I’m not an isolationist. I want to trade with people, talk with people, travel. But I don’t want to send our troops overseas using force telling them how to live. We would object to it here and they’re going to object to us over there."
It was not the first time the two men tangled.
Earlier, talking about fiscal responsibility, McCain, who has been outspoken against pork barrel spending, lamented Republicans who got into politics to change Washington, but "we went to Washington and Washington changed us."
Several questions later, Paul, absolutist in his views and almost in alone in Washington in his opposition to just about every spending bill said to McCain, "Washington didn’t change me."
At a later point in the debate, McCain and Paul sparred again.
Recalling Iraq once again, McCain asserted, "We never lost a battle in Vietnam, it was American public opinion that caused us to lose that conflict."
McCain then said that the difference between Iraq and Vietnam is al-Qaeda’s determination to attack the United States.
"They want to follow us home, they want Iraq to be a base for al-Qaeda," McCain insisted.
Dr. Paul engaged McCain once again, saying that whether or not the U.S. "never lost a battle" in Vietnam is "irrelevant."
"(Al-Qaeda) want to come here … because of our military base in Saudi Arabia," Paul retorted.
"They come here because we’re occupying their country just as we would object if they occupied our country," he added.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., took McCain’s side in the Paul-McCain clash.
"I wish we lived in a world that Ron is describing . . . unfortunately, Ron, I don’t believe that is the case," Tancredo said.
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