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By John Frank November 13, 2007

Distorting the view

One of Rudy Giuliani's frequent targets on the campaign trail is Hillary Clinton. And one of his frequent lines is: ''The free market is . . . one of our greatest assets. And the leading Democratic candidate once said that the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America. I mean, just get an idea of where the philosophy comes from.''

Except Clinton never called the free market ''destructive.'' Giuliani is blatantly — and repeatedly — misquoting a line from her 1996 book, It Takes a Village.

In the text, Clinton quotes author Alan Ehrenhalt, who wrote in his book The Lost City: ''The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation.'' During a March 1996 interview on the C-SPAN program Book Notes, Clinton said she agreed with the statement.

But the word ''disruptive'' is not the same as ''destructive'' in the context of the free market, said Ehrenhalt, executive editor of Governing magazine. The magazine is published by CQ and is an affiliate of the St. Petersburg Times .

"There's no particular reason for a controversy," he said. "But Giuliani is looking for anything to say against Hillary Clinton ... and he keeps distorting it."

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Most economists would agree, Ehrenhalt said, with his assertion that the free market causes interruptions, whether positive or negative, in its normal course — which is the dictionary definition of disruptive.

A Giuliani campaign spokesman didn't see a difference between the words.

''No one can deny that Mayor Giuliani was accurate in describing Hillary Clinton's economic philosophy,'' said spokesman Elliot Bundy.

Clinton's campaign didn't want to comment on the issue, but her full answer to the C-SPAN question provides more context. ''The market is the driving force behind our prosperity, our freedom ... (but) it cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives as well,'' she said.

Because of Giuliani's misquote, we give this a ruling of False.

Our Sources

Transcript, CNBC Republican debate, CQ Transcriptions, Oct. 9, 2007

Hillary Clinton, It Takes a Village, Simon & Schuster, 1996

Alan Ehrenhalt, The Lost City, Basic Books, 1995

Transcript , C-SPAN Book Notes, March 3 1996

Interview, Elliott Bundy, Giuliani campaign spokesman, Oct. 23, 2007

Interview, Alan Ehrenhalt, Exec. Editor, Governing magazine, Oct. 19, 2007

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