Ron Paul comes out swinging in Republican debate

Sunday, January 8, 2012
By Paul Martin
Sat. Jan. 7 2012

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The oldest man on the stage had the most fire in his belly on Saturday as the latest Republican presidential debate quickly morphed into a battle for second place as front-runner Mitt Romney, smiling almost beatifically at times, watched his rivals do pitched battle.

Ron Paul, the 76-year-old libertarian congressman who’s in second place in the New Hampshire polls heading into Tuesday’s state primary, came out swinging, taking on Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich using the type of arguments rarely heard springing from the lips of a Republican.

He didn’t regret calling Gingrich a “chicken hawk” earlier this week, he told the debate moderators.

Paul has assailed Gingrich for supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while failing to serve Vietnam; he accused the former speaker of the House of Representatives of getting several deferments to avoid serving in the conflict.

“I think people who don’t serve when they could … they have no right to send our kids off to war, and not to even be against the wars we have,” he said.

When Gingrich objected, denying he had received a deferment but saying he was ineligible to serve because he was married with children, Paul scoffed.

“When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went,” he said to decisively end the exchange.

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