Rudy Giuliani got a lot of grief on Monday for having supposedly forgotten about the Sept. 11 attacks that took place when he was mayor of New York City and formed a not insignificant portion of the basis for his national political career.
During a speech introducing Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence in Youngstown, Ohio, Giuliani said: “Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when [Hillary] Clinton and Obama got into office.”
This led to some hyperventilating on Twitter from outlets saying that Giuliani was ignoring 9/11 (something Giuliani is normally not accused of doing).
But while his phrasing was misleading, no, Giuliani did not rewrite history to delete the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812. In fact, right before this portion of the speech, he said that “[on] Sept. 11, when we went through the worst foreign attack in our history since the War of 1812.”
He then credited Pence’s work on the Patriot Act with preventing more attacks before pivoting to his remarks about eight years without another attack. Giuliani clearly meant there wasn’t an attack during the 2001–2009 period after 9/11 and not the entirety of the eight years before Obama took office. Again, this was a poorly worded, misleading statement, but Giuliani clearly did not literally mean that 9/11 didn’t happen.
Perhaps more interesting than this half-gaffe, though, is that, in stumping for Trump, Giuliani contradicted one of Trump’s main talking points on terrorism from his primary campaign.
Giuliani’s point is that George W. Bush kept America safe and Barack Obama didn’t. This is the same line of argument that Jeb Bush, the former president’s brother and Trump’s erstwhile primary rival, used in his own failed campaign against Trump. Trump, though, offered rather eloquent takedowns of the premise that the most recent Republican administration “kept us safe” while the Democrats did not. First, in October, he called Jeb Bush “pathetic for saying nothing happened during your brother’s term when the World Trade Center was attacked and came down.” Then in February, he hit Bush with this doozy of a line about his brother’s presidency and the years proceeding the Obama administration:
What does that mean ‘he kept the country safe after 9/11?’ In other words, we had this major catastrophe after that. What does that mean ‘after that?’ I don’t know. I’ve heard that for years. … What about during 9/11? I was there. I lost a lot of friends that were killed in that building. The worst attack ever in this country—it was during his Presidency.
We had the worst attack ever, by the way after that we did Ok. That’s [like saying] the team scored 19 runs in the first inning, but after that we played well. I don’t think so.
Giuliani should probably stop using this argument, which Donald Trump refuted quite well, while he is directly campaigning for Donald Trump.