Giuliani-Paul Tempest Gets Hotter

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As the Republican presidential candidates square off in a forum for the third time tonight, keep an eye out for any onstage drama between former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, after their spat stole the show the last time around.

In case you missed it: During the May 15 GOP debate, Paul insinuated that the United States' foreign policy was responsible for 9/11. Giuliani pounced. "I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11," Giuliani said. Many political commentators called this banter the highlight of the evening.

Giuliani then asked for an apology. Paul demurred. Instead, the libertarian fringe candidate hosted a press conference on May 24 entitled "educating Rudy," where he and Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit, gave Giuliani a summer reading list.

In a grand display at the National Press Club in Washington, Paul advised Giuliani to read Scheuer's book Imperial Hubris, Blowback by Chalmers Johnson, Dying to Win by Robert Paper, and the 9/11 Commission Report.

The Giuliani camp was not amused.

"It is extraordinary and reckless to claim that the United States invited the attacks on September 11th," said Maria Comella, deputy communications director for Giuliani. "And to further declare Rudy Giuliani needs to be educated on September 11 when millions of people around the world saw him dealing with these terrorist attacks firsthand is just as absurd."

Absurd as it may be, the video clip of the press conference received more than 100,000 views on YouTube and more than 1,000 comments from users, mostly agreeing with Paul.

Paul's communications director, Jesse Benton, told U.S. News that he hoped this would allow for more dialogue between Giuliani and Paul on the topic of foreign policy.

"I would like to think that we've been poking [Giuliani] a little bit and he's taken notice," Benton said.

--Nikki Schwab