Ron Paul Unleashes Silly Attack On Rick Perry Over Something That Happened 23 Years Ago

Ron Paul didn’t run many campaign ads during his 2008 campaign but, when he did, they were generally positive ads about the candidate rather than ads attacking his opponents. He’s not taking that approach this time, as his new ad targeting frontrunner Rick Perry demonstrates:

Ron Paul is taking on Rick Perry in a new television ad blasting the Texas governor for for supporting Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign, POLITICO has learned.

The 60-second spot, backed by a six-figure ad buy — the first negative ad attacking Perry to come directly out of a Republican campaign this primary season — contrasts Paul’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan in 1980 with Perry’s role as the Texas chairman for Gore’s first presidential campaign.

Here’s the ad:

Now, I’m not really a Rick Perry fan and I’m probably more inclined to agree with Congressman Paul than Governor Perry. Nonetheless, this strikes me as a pretty silly thing to attack Perry over. First of all, it happened 23 years ago at a time when Perry was both still a Democrat (as were many largely conservative people in the south at the time) and just starting out in politics. Second of all, the Al Gore of 1988 was far, far different from Vice-President Al Gore, the Al Gore who ran for President in 2000, or the Al Gore who has become an international crusader on climate change. Back in 1988, as those who were around at the time will remember, Gore campaigned as the moderate/conservative alternative to Michael Dukakis. In fact, it was Al Gore who first brought the issue of Massachusetts’ practice of allowing weekend furloughs for convicted violent felons to light in a Democratic debate in New York. Gore was among those considered “New Democrats” trying to move the party away from the leftward tilt it had taken with the Mondale nomination in 1984, and was closely allied with the Democratic Leadership Council. This was the same Al Gore who masterfully defended the North American Free Trade Agreement in a November 1993 televised debate with Al Gore. Ross Perot. In other words, the Al Gore that Democrat Rick Perry endorsed in 1988 is not the Al Gore that Republicans rail against today. Just as the Ronald Reagan of the 1940s was not the Ronald Reagan who worked on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Basing your attack ad on something that happened two decades ago that most people neither know nor care about strikes me as pretty silly.

Update: As long as we’re digging up stuff from 1988, I wonder if the Congressman remembers this one:

“I want to totally disassociate myself from the Reagan Administration.” — Ron Paul to the Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1988

Paul, of course, had left the GOP and was running as the Libertarian Party nominee for President in 1988. I voted for him that year. But, it does make the attack on Perry seem even sillier in retrospect.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Neill Fendly says:

    Pretty silly but I think the 2012 election will end up being ridiculous, petty, very negative and. on the other side of the coin some of the best comedy to be seen! While it will never happen I would love to see an election where all advertising had to be about the individual and their stance with no reference to the opponent.

  2. samwide says:

    Ron Paul Unleashes Silly Attack

    Well, you could’ve stopped right there…

  3. EzekielZ says:

    I like how hooked-into-DC faux-libertarian Doug Mataconis, who lives just a few miles outside the beltway, calls his blog “Outside the Beltway” as if he’s from the heartland or something.

    Typical charlatanism of the fake DC “libertarians”…Doug did this against Ron Paul all throughout the 2008 election, too.

    DC, city of lies. Doug Mataconis, part of the Beltway system.

    Ron Paul, polling 14% in Iowa and 14% in New Hampshire and gaining every week.

  4. Let’s see where do I begin?

    First, it’s not my blog, James Joyner started it well before I came along. Second, I don’t live “a few miles” outside the beltway. It’s more like an hour-plus.

    Facts are stubborn things.

  5. Also, EzekialZ, I would suggest you consult our comment policy.

  6. nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney baldwin ventura sheehan says:

    Al Gore tried to give us Joe Lieberman as VP !!

  7. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:

    Your bio says you’re a lawyer who lives in Northern Virginia, so my spidey sense tells me you benefit from the enlargement of the federal government and would be hurt financially by its diminishment. True or false? Please tell us and be honest.

    Not sure where in Northern Virginia is an “hour plus” from the Beltway. Maybe you’re counting traffic. Even so, you’re closer to the Beltway than 99% of the U.S. population, so writing for a blog called “Outside the Beltway” is disingenuous.

    There’s a market for people who a) self-label as libertarian and b) want to criticize Ron Paul in print. You did it during the 2007-08 campaign and you’re doing it now. Tell me which if any of the above is false.

  8. Good for the goose... says:

    From Ron Paul’s press release regarding the racist newsletters: “This story is old news…”

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    That´s more complicated, because even at that time Conservative Democrats weren´t that Conservative on economic matters.

  10. EzekielZ says:

    @Good for the goose…:

    Posts like “good for the goose’s” are one reason we’re in such a mess these days: a kind and gentle man who’s never uttered a “racist” word in his life is smeared endlessly with a couple of off-color jokes written by someone else in his newsletter. Garbage, garbage, garbage, as the huge amount of support Paul gets from minorities attests.

    How’s this for racism: Ron Paul would set free hundreds of thousands of disproportionately minority prisoners who have committed no violent crime, but are rather victims of the misguided “War on Drugs.” They are in government cages for no good reason and ONLY Ron Paul would set them free where they belong.

    Why don’t you write about these people, Good for the Goose? Because blacks and Hispanics are just a political tool for you to get what you want — enlargement of the federal government, and more blacks and Hispanics thrown in jail.

    Be proud of your racist self, good for the goose.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    There’s quite a bit of Northern Virginia that’s an hour or more from the Beltway.

    There’s this thing called Google Maps. You could click on it and discover these things for yourself.

    So many perfectly good reasons to pick on Doug, none of which involve where he lives.

  12. EzekielZ says:

    Further emphasizing the falsity of Good for the Goose’s smear above:

    Ron Paul wins majority of non-white vote in yesterday’s LA Times Rep. poll:

  13. EzekielZ says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I know Google Maps and I’ve lived in NoVa. But the vast majority of lawyers in NoVa don’t live an hour plus from the Beltway. But even if he’s 75 minutes from the Beltway, the point remains: you’re not an beltway outsider just because you live in Burke (or Gaithersburg even, crossing the river). The federal government has grown so large that it has spread well beyond the Beltway. Doug Mataconis is not in any way an “outsider” — unless he tells us otherwise — which he hasn’t — Doug is a lawyer who gains from the federal government’s enlargement and would be hurt financially by its diminishment.

    yes or no, Doug?

  14. Ezekiel,

    Your irrelevant questions are not going to be answered and, since you’re straying off topic, you are in violation of the comment policies I referred to you earlier. Consider this a warning.

  15. CB says:


    sorry for the useless post, but WOW was that awesome. i give it a 10+ on the crazy scale. sometimes a comment like that comes along and you just have to say something, anything.

  16. EzekielZ says:

    Sounds like my questions — which are anything but irrelevant — just were answered. I just now noticed your B.A. in PoliSci, too. Shocker.

    I hardly think it’s irrelevant to notice your agenda, and that you have a horse in this race you don’t acknowledge. And to note that your pattern of anti-libertarian writing goes back to the 2007-08 campaign, despite cloaking yourself in libertarian rhetoric.

    In sum: the lawyer with a B.A. in PoliSci who lives in the DC suburbs and writes a political blog is also an “outside the beltway” libertarian.

    Sure, I’ll buy it! Have a nice day.

  17. Ben says:

    @EzekielZ: So what is the Paul apologetics response to the fact that he doesn’t believe that there should be a separation of church and state, and that the founders really wanted a “robustly Christian nation”? That doesn’t sound very libertarian to me ..

  18. Lindsey says:

    Good Ad! Perry also endorsed Rudy Gulianni in 2008! Perry is not a conservative! The choice for real conservatives is between Paul, Bachmann, Cain and Santorum. Perry, Romney, Huntsman and Gingrich do not measure up!

  19. Lindsey says:

    The Constitution says nothing about a separation of church and state. Ron Paul is simply stating the facts. We were indeed founded by a robust Christian majority!

  20. michael reynolds says:

    Genius: if you run over to you’ll see Doug practices in Manassas. It’s not really Eyes Only Top Secret data. Click click and there you are.

    Manassas is not known as a hot-bed of secret liberals or the home of Big Government.

  21. Lindsey,

    You do realize that the four people you named have absolutely no chance of beating Barack Obama, right?

  22. EzekielZ says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Manassas is 20 minutes from the Beltway, though, as your Google Maps shows. And a place whose exponential growth over the past few decades is entirely attributable to the growth of the federal government.

  23. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Demonstrably a false statement, Doug: here’s a Rasmussen poll from a couple of weeks ago showing Ron Paul 1 point behind Obama in a head-to-head matchup:

    There are many similar polls lately showing Paul neck-and-neck with Obama. So why would a libertarian, of all people, make such an obviously false and easily disprovable statement like “Ron Paul has absolutely no chance of beating Barack Obama”?

    I would like an answer to that one, Doug. You and I both already know it, but perhaps your readers would like to hear it from you.

  24. Ben says:


    The Constitution also doesn’t say that police officers have to read you your rights prior to any interrogations. Do you think that the Miranda requirement should be done away with?

    Oh, and as for our founder’s opinions on that matter, many of them would disagree with you. John Adams disagrees with you:

    “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

  25. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: My goodness, according to James Joyner’s website he lives in Alexandria! You can’t make this stuff up. You can’t get much further inside the beltway than Alexandria.

    Does anybody who writes for “Outside the Beltway” actually live outside the Beltway??

  26. James H says:

    This was the same Al Gore who masterfully defended the North American Free Trade Agreement in a November 1993 televised debate with Al Gore.

    Sorry to grammar-snark, but I can’t help laughing at the image of Al Gore debating Al Gore.

  27. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ron Paul is running for president??

  28. Good for the goose... says:

    EzekialZ wrote:

    Because blacks and Hispanics are just a political tool for you to get what you want — enlargement of the federal government, and more blacks and Hispanics thrown in jail.

    Be proud of your racist self, good for the goose.

    I’m a lifelong libertarian who voted for RP in 2008, dude. Because he refuses to reign in people like you, I won’t be making the same mistake again.

  29. It may be necessary for Paul to do this since back in 2008, conservatives were attacking from all sides. Being the nice Libertarian in the race who just talks about the issues may not work this time. Conservatives hate Libertarians and have tried to bury Paul (since he is against their beloveded warfare state) but still comes out on top, this election will be different I hope it’s just one add and Paul will stick to the issues like he has been doing over these past years.

  30. EddieInCA says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 10:31

    Also, EzekialZ, I would suggest you consult our comment policy.

    From said comment policy:

    Remember that the people under discussion are human beings. Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.


    Perhaps you should discuss this policy with your own front-pager, Steve Verdon, who breaks this comment policy on a regular basis.

    Your blog, your rules – but please let’s have some consistency. On the one hand, you can’t condemn posters for breaking the rules when of of your one writers breaks it constantly.

  31. @James H:

    Typo obviously

  32. EzekielZ says:

    Doug only answers the important questions, like about typos.

    About whether his statement “Ron Paul has absolutely no chance of beating Barack Obama” is demonstrably and obviously false, he’s suddenly quiet.

    Or about why a “libertarian” would make such an obviously false statement about — and has a years-long track record of making such false statements about — Ron Paul, well — on that he’s silent as a church mouse as well.

  33. EzekielZ says:

    @Good for the goose…: A “life-long libertarian who won’t be voting for Ron Paul”? This website sounds like just your cup of tea.

  34. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Facts are stubborn things. Here you not only claim that it’s your blog, but that you named it and why(!):

    “My homestead is about 30 miles south of the Beltway, hence the admittedly unoriginal name for my blog, Below The Beltway”

    They can’t both be true, as is so often the case in DC.

  35. Ezkiel,

    In case you haven’t realized it yet, “Outside The Beltway” and “Below The Beltway” are two different blogs. I did not start blogging here until May 2010.

    Now that you’ve spent your afternoon Google-ing my name, perhaps you can actually comment on something relevant.

  36. Good for the goose... says:

    EzekielZ, good luck with that Ron Paul race of yours now that you’ve alienated some more of your easiest low-hunging fruit.

  37. Good for the goose... says:

    oops… that should be “low-hanging”

  38. @Good for the goose…:

    I’m kinda curious who you will vote for.

  39. EzekielZ says:

    “I’m kinda curious who you will vote for. ”

    As am I, Good for the Goose. Remember to tell us the truth now.

  40. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure thing, Doug: for the third time, how do you reconcile your statement that “Ron Paul has absolutely no chance of beating Barack Obama” with all the polls that show them in a dead heat?

    I’ve asked three times, but you’ve ducked the question so far. Inquiring minds want to know.

  41. @EzekielZ:

    Head to head polls taken more than a year before Election Day have little to no predictive power. At most they are reflective of, and tend to track, the job approval numbers of the incumbent. Since Obama’s job approval numbers are suffering, the head-to head numbers in some polls (not all of them) show a tight race. Reality, I submit, would be quite different.

    Also, Ron Paul isn’t going to be the 2012 Republican nominee, so he won’t be facing Barack Obama in a head-to-head race in November of that year.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    Actually the nearest point on the Beltway is 26 minutes — in optimal traffic conditions — to the center of Manassass. That’s down the 66, which last had optimal traffic conditions in 1965.

    The area is represented by Congressman Frank Wolf, Republican. From Wikipedia:

    The National Rifle Association gives him a B+ and the American Civil Liberties Union gives him a 0%. Some other rankings include 0% from Clean Air Flow Energy, 100% from National Right to Life, 0% from the Human Rights Coalition, 17% from the National Educational Association, 5% from the League of Conservation Voters, 92% from the United States Border Control and 10% by the Alliance for Retired Americans.

    Yep. A hotbed of crazy liberals out there.

  43. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You cite polls all the time for elections that are far out into the future; recently you cited them to argue that, four months before the Iowa Caucus, the Republican race is down to only two candidates (!).

    But now they show Ron Paul doing well — and moving up each week — and your tune changes. 180 degrees.

    Again, what kind of a libertarian are you? As your self-written bio at Liberty Papers states, you are a “pro-war libertarian.” Which doesn’t exist in my book — and which tells us all we need to know about your views on Ron Paul.

  44. @EzekielZ:

    Reality is reality. Ron Paul is not going to be the nominee. Neither is the guy I like, Gary Johnson.

    Also, that biography is several years out of date.

  45. EzekielZ says:

    @michael reynolds: 26 minutes to city center or 19 minutes, who cares? He’s no more “outside the beltway” than a military contractor who lives in Germantown.

    And no one said Manassas was “a hotbed of crazy liberals,” those are your words. What it is full of is what every other suburb of DC is full of: people who believe in and rely on the federal government for their living. The two are closely related, and know no party bounds. There are plenty of red-state Republicans living in NoVa who want the federal government to grow by leaps and bounds.

    Judging by your familiarity with local traffic patterns, it sounds like you might be one of them. Amirite?

  46. Good for the goose... says:

    Right now, my personal candidate ranking is in this order:


    Of course, this order could change (and frequently does) at anytime. Each of these candidates has warts, and each has attributes. And while ideology is important to me, integrity, executive experience, consistency, military experience, leadership abilities, intelligence (as opposed to intelligent design), and electability are also factors.

    Note that leadership is an important trait to me, and Ron Paul hasn’t shown he has it even with his own supporters and I expect those who don’t worship the RP cult would be simply kicked to the curb.

  47. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, that’s more argumentation by assertion. Just because you keep stating it doesn’t make it so, and your statement that “Ron Paul has absolutely no chance of beating Barack Obama” — clearly untrue, as most absolutist predictions are, and as the polls I’ve cited show — reveals that you have an agenda.

    Paul is polling 14% in Iowa per Rasmussen today and 14% in New Hampshire per Rasmussen two days ago. Many candidates have polled worse and won their party’s nomination, John McCain being the most recent example (he got 1% in the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll, for example). You are a “pro-war libertarian,” in your own words, and you’re using this blog to convince people that the only candidate for peace — Johnson included — cannot win.

    That’s called “propaganda” anywhere else in the world.

  48. Ezekial,

    Since you have no idea where I actually live right now why don’t you just end this already? Consider this another warning for violating the comment policy.

  49. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: If it’s out of date, then what has changed in your views? If you no longer consider yourself a “pro-war Libertarian,” then I’ll gladly stop writing it. Are you no longer pro-war or no longer libertarian, or both?

  50. EzekielZ says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Violating what comment policy?! I couldn’t care less where you live, and Michael was the one who went to and found out where you practice. Cite him for violating comment policy.

  51. Ezekial,

    I referenced the comment policy in this reply to you earlier today.

  52. Sebastian Janssen says:

    I’m not sure if this is a good ad once properly dissected (“How far back did Ron Paul have to go to find something bad to say about Perry?”) but I do think that this ad will be fairly effective with certain voters, so I guess it’s a “good” attack ad in that sense. And although it does little to prove the man Perry is today, the added effect of Paul’s “Dear GOP” letter does show that Paul has been consistent in his critique of the GOP. If he will be given proper time to critique the 2012 Rick Perry, I think he could’ve done without this critique of the 1988 Rick Perry. I mean, 1988 is so long ago that even Ron Paul himself changed his mind on an important issue (death penalty).

  53. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “Manassas is not known as a hot-bed of secret liberals or the home of Big Government.”

    Sure is a good album, though…

  54. Ken says:

    Centuries from now, when our minds are all wired directly into the galactic net, I wonder if there will be “Bloody Mary” style legends about the nutbots that will come flooding out if you intone “Ron Paul!” three times.

  55. mantis says:

    @James H:

    Sorry to grammar-snark, but I can’t help laughing at the image of Al Gore debating Al Gore.


  56. mantis says:

    Why are all the rabid Ron Paul supporters such creeps?

  57. @mantis: Why are all the rabid Ron Paul supporters such creeps?

    Funny I can ask the same thing about Neocons, Liberals, and Paleocons. (rolls eyes)

  58. Sfumato12 says:

    Doug you’ve missed the whole point of this ad. Sure, it’s lame and hypocritical. But most importantly, it is the first attack ad on Rick Perry thus garnering lots of free press for Paul. It’s on all the major news sites. It also allows Paul to punch up to Perry and puts him on equal footing. Lame? Yeah. Smart? Absolutely.

  59. MT from CC says:

    What is so amusing and ironic about this is that the more conservative Al Gore of 1988 would be considered a radical communist by the standards of today’s GOP, and the Ronald Reagan of 1980-1988 (based on the decisions made and actions taken when he was President) — decisions and actions that have made him the beloved icon of the American conservative movement (if there really is such a thing) — would also be well to the left of the political philosophy that each and every one of the current GOP presidential candidates professes to have. My question is what happened to all of those “moderately conservative” establishment Republicans of the 1980’s — the ones who voted for Bush over Reagan in the 1980 GOP primaries. Have they all bought into the John Birch/George Wallace rhetoric of the hard right wing center of what is now the “GOP” (which is looking a lot more like a cross between the John Birch Society and the KKK these days), or are they at all troubled and disturbed by it (like most of the rest of us are)? I understand how the GOP (with a big assist from Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and conservative talk radio) managed to make “liberal” into a dirty word within mainstream corporate media circles, but since when did fiscal responsibility become socialism if it involves any revenue increases? This is not my grandafather’s GOP, I can tell you that.