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CAMPAIGN 2008

''A noun, a verb and 9/11''

Giuliani has plenty more words for Biden

The claws came out Tuesday night when Democratic presidential candidates debated in Philadelphia. But one unexpected spat was between a Democratic senator who trails in the polls and the front-runner in the Republican nomination race.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden drew laughter and applause when he ridiculed former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani during the debate at Drexel University. In response to Giuliani's comments that no Democratic candidate has enough executive experience to lead, Biden called Giuliani 'the most under-qualified man since George W. Bush to seek the presidency.'

'There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11,' Biden said.

Giuliani's communications director, Katie Levinson, issued a scathing response.

'Sen. Biden has never run anything but his mouth,' she said. 'Such a desperate attack from Sen. Biden is to be expected, considering I - Katie Levinson - have a better chance of becoming president than he does.'

Biden isn't the first to mock Giuliani for often mentioning the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The satirical newspaper The Onion ran a headline in February that said Giuliani was running for president of 9/11. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart said Giuliani suffers from '9/11 Tourette's,' referring to the disorder that causes nervous tics that make people stammer, repeat words or insert unrelated words into their sentences.

Last month, Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat who won the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, lambasted Giuliani when word got out that a California supporter was holding a fundraiser where participants were encouraged to donate $9.11 to Giuliani.

'Exploiting the Sept. 11 attacks for fundraising purposes is absolutely unconscionable, shameless and sickening,' Dodd said in a statement. He called on Giuliani to refuse any money raised from it.

A Giuliani spokeswoman said the campaign didn't know about the fundraiser or its theme. The campaign also returned any money raised in $9.11 increments, she said.

But Biden's comments at the debate were the first time a presidential contender had so directly attacked Giuliani, who leads the Republican candidates in most national polls. Giuliani has focused on attacking Democrats, specifically New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, throughout his campaign, preferring to draw distinctions between himself and Clinton, rather than his Republican rivals.

At the debate, moderator Brian Williams asked both Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to respond to Giuliani's criticisms that the Democratic candidates are inexperienced for the presidency. No one lashed out at Giuliani until Biden spoke. The 9/11 remark was the most memorable, but Biden also took on Giuliani's record in New York.

'Here's a man who brags about how he made the city safe,' Biden said. 'It was the Biden crime bill, that became the Clinton crime bill, that allowed him to do that. They wipe it out; he's remained silent. The 9/11 commission comes along and says the way to keep your city safe is to do the following things. He's been silent. He's been - done nothing.'

Levinson's response recalled an embarrassing piece of Biden's past: He dropped out of the 1988 presidential campaign amid accusations that he plagiarized a speech by a British politician.

'The good senator is quite correct that there are many differences between Rudy and him,' Levinson said. 'For starters, Rudy rarely reads prepared speeches, and when he does, he isn't prone to ripping off the text from others.'

The Biden campaign accused Giuliani of dragging 'this race into the mud where the Republicans like to wage their campaigns.'

By JOELLE FARRELL

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