Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-OH-13) presidential campaign is pushing back on claims that he didn’t know who was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks during Wednesday night’s first debate.
As The Ohio Star reported, one of the most memorable exchanges of the evening came towards the end of the debate when Ryan and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) sparred over U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.
“The lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that you have to stay engaged in these situations,” Ryan said.
“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan?” Gabbard replied.
Ryan went on to say that he doesn’t “want to be engaged,” but if the “United States isn’t engaged,” then “the Taliban will grow.”
“The Taliban was there long before we came in and they’ll be there long after we leave,” Gabbard shot back.
“When weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings,” Ryan said, prompting Gabbard to point out that it was al-Qaeda, not the Taliban, that attacked the U.S. on 9/11.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 27, 2019
Ryan told reporters after the debate that Gabbard “was trying to make it look like I didn’t understand what I’m talking about.”
“I know what I’m talking about. I’m right, and we can’t let these areas be wide open,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s campaign defended his stance that “America can’t cede its international leadership and retreat from around the world” in a statement released after the debate.
Statement from Ryan Campaign on Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/3vuV62kl1S
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) June 27, 2019
“When he tried to answer her, she contorted a factual point Tim was making—about the Taliban being complicit in the 9/11 attacks by providing training, bases and refuge for al-Qaeda and its leaders,” Ryan’s campaign said. “The characterization that Tim Ryan doesn’t know who is responsible for the attacks on 9/11 is simply unfair reporting.”
“Further, we continue to reject Gabbard’s isolationism and her misguided beliefs on foreign policy,” the statement concluded. “We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it’s OK to dine with murderous dictators like Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people.”
Mandi Merritt, regional communications director for the Republican National Committee, told The Ohio Star that Ryan had “one of the worst debate performances of the night.”
“On a night where Tim Ryan was desperately hoping to have a breakout moment, he instead misfired, coming in at one of the worst debate performances of the night,” she said. “Clearly, Tim Ryan is not ready for the Presidential stage.”
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