CARLSON: A nationally televised debate is perhaps the bestmaybe the only opportunity for the less famous among the presidential candidates to make their marks with the public. It is a place for those to force their issues with the leading contenders.
Well, maybe the most interesting contender in this entire race is a congressman from Texas named Ron Paul. Unlike virtually everyone else in the Republican Party, he is an actual libertarian. He has also run for president before. Im willing to admit, I actually voted for him as a libertarian in 1988. I will get my conflict out of the way at the very beginning. We welcome now from Simi Valley, California, Ron Paul of Texas.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Nice to be with you.
CARLSON: Well, I slobbered all over you in the intro, so I bet it is.
PAUL: Good job.
CARLSON: Thank you. I think you are the only Republican running for president right now who actually voted against the war in Iraq at the very outset. Are you going to bring that up on the stage tonight?
PAUL: Well, if I have the chance, I certainly will because 70 of the American people now think that the foreign policy is going in the wrong direction, want a change. So you cant win an election next year if you dont go with what the public wants. And they want a change in foreign policy.
But I was opposed to what was going on in Iraq a long time before it started because there was an Iraqi Liberation Act passed in 1998 indicating that that would be our policy. So I was speaking out against a war for five years before it started and it has turned out that this war has not gone well.
CARLSON: Sometimes candidates who get in the race because of their ideas who really believe what they say, and Im putting youI mean it as a compliment, in that category, you could feel the anger that comes off of them when they address members of their own party who they feel like have sold the true beliefs of the party. Do feel the anger toward your fellow Republicans for squandering the opportunity they had in 1994?
PAUL: No. I dont have anger, but Im very interested in the philosophy because I think ideas change the world. But I dont think that the ideas of this administration is wholly to blame for our foreign policy. We have a foreign policy that needs to be addressed, not micromanaging troops. We need to macromanage our foreign policy. And that is what we havent done well.
I just dont believe in the interventionist foreign policy. I believe in the foreign policy of the founding fathers who talked about non-intervention. Republicans over the decades have benefited by taking this position. We have been generally the peace party.
And you know, look at the Korean War, we won the election with Nixon -
with Eisenhower, and after Vietnam, we won, and even in the year 2000 we ran against nation-building and policing the world and a humble foreign policy. That is the Republican position. Thats the conservative position. And thats the message I would like to get out.
CARLSON: And where did the utopianism come in? I mean, who introduced into the Republican Party the idea it was our moral obligation to bring democracy to the rest of the world? That our soldiers ought to die so other people could have a different form of government? Where did that come from?
PAUL: Well, unfortunately, it came from a very liberal Democrat named Woodrow Wilson. Make the world safe for democracy. So that idea has been around for a long time. But it is the neoconservatives that have revived that idea here in the last seven years or so since they took over foreign policy.
But they pushed the traditional conservatives out of the way. The neoconservatives are not conservatives. They come from the left wing of the Democratic Party. They believe in entitlements. And what have we done as Republicans? We have fully endorsed the entitlements. And that is why this country is in financial bad shape.
I mean, were overspending on our foreign policy and our military commitments, at the same time we are massively increasing the scope of government in Washington, increasing domestic spending either with these entitlements, doubling the size of the Department of Education, over-regulating.
So I think in many ways, the Republican Party has lost its way. And we deserve in this country to hear from the conservative Republicans and give them a chance to get their message out.
CARLSON: So but wherewhat is their outletsI mean, for the
I dont know, whatever the small percentage of Americans who are genuinely conservative or classical liberal or libertarian or whatever you call it, but who believe in freedom and limited government, and there are some left. Theyre not being represented at all by the Republican Party. Who do they vote for? Who did you vote for last time? Who will you vote for if you dont become the nominee? Who holds their flag?
PAUL: Well, it depends on who our nominee is going to be. And hopefully there is enough people now who are interested in these views that believe in liberty, believe in the Constitution, believe in limited government and balanced budget. There is nothing radical about it.
To me, the radical idea is overspending, over-borrowing and then resorting to printing money when you run out of it. And you wonder why you have financial problems. We are borrowing it from the Chinese to finance our military operations.
I mean, most Americans are waking up to this. So no, Im offering this. Obviously I think I can provide an opportunity to represent these people and represent the country. To me, its the most practical thing to do and to me, its also a traditional Republican conservative position.
And unfortunately, like you indicate, the Republican party no longer has been acting conservatively, but the conservative views of this country, the traditions, the Constitution, theres nothing about that that we should be embarrassed about. A conservative does not have to be embarrassed about being opposed to needless war, war that is undeclared.
Here were going to war, ever since World War II, we never declared war and have never won a war. There is nothing conservative about that.
CARLSON: I agree.
PAUL: So this is a tremendous opportunity for conservatives to be heard.
CARLSON: Yes. There iswhen your operating philosophy is please dont bother me and I will try my best not to bother you, there is nothing embarrassing about that. And I wish people would articulate it better. Ron Paul, you articulate it well. And I appreciate you coming on. Thank you.
PAUL: Thanks a lot.