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MSNBC "Tucker" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. PAUL: (From videotape.) This idea of going and talking to attorneys totally baffles me. Why don't we just open up the Constitution and read it? You're not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war.

Now, as far as fleeting enemies go, yes, if there's an imminent attack on us. We've never had that happen in 220 years. The thought that the Iranians could pose an imminent attack on the United States is preposterous. There's no way. This is just war propaganda, continued war propaganda, preparing this nation to go to war and spread this war, not only in Iraq but into Iran, unconstitutionally. It is a road to disaster for us as a nation. It's a road to our financial disaster if we don't read the Constitution once in a while.

MR. CARLSON: Whoo! That was Republican Congressman Ron Paul on fire at yesterday's debate. Paul is trying to remind us, the Republican Party, what exactly it means to be conservative. And it appears the candidates are not listening. So why is he keeping up the fight? We're going to ask the man himself. Joining us now, Ron Paul of Texas.

Mr. Paul, thanks for joining us.

REP. PAUL: Thank you. Nice to be with you.

MR. CARLSON: You have this unexpected -- at least some people did not expect it -- wellspring of support across the country, mostly from antiwar people. And they've sent you a great deal of money. And I wonder, do they know about your other views? They know that you're passionately opposed to the war and intervening in other countries. But do they know how strongly you support the Second Amendment, for instance, or how you want to eliminate federal departments? Do they know that?

REP. PAUL: I think so. I certainly believe that most people know about my position on the Second Amendment because they know I'm a stickler for the Constitution. And anybody who's knowledgeable about the Constitution knows that it's a pretty explicit right in the Second Amendment.

As far as which departments I'd like to get rid of and how fast, I haven't dwelled on that because, I mean, I know what we should do, but I also know that we have to get a consensus. The president has a lot of authority and can do an awful lot. But still, I would be one that would want to work with the Congress and make sure that we do it in a proper manner.

MR. CARLSON: But I guess my point is, you don't buy the basic assumptions of American politics circa 2007 that the federal government ought to be subsidizing the middle class, that entitlements are constitutional, things like that. Am I correct?

REP. PAUL: Oh, absolutely. We shouldn't be involved in that. The job of the government is to provide liberty and protect liberty. The people are supposed to take care of themselves, both in a personal way as well as an economic way. And we're not supposed to tell other countries how to live. That's what the Constitution dictates to us. That was the strong advice of the founders. And that's really what the people want.

And this message is getting especially important today, because a lot of people are realizing central economic planning doesn't work. They see failure in Washington. Young people especially know they can't get Social Security, and they saw the disaster of trying to take care of New Orleans. So people have lost confidence. And I think that's a healthy sign, because they should restore confidence in themselves and in local government, and then we can solve some of these problems.

MR. CARLSON: You don't think that people expect and want government to take care of them? I mean, if you got up there on stage and said, you know, "We should do away with Medicare; save your own money for your own medical treatment or set up a retirement account for yourself; Social Security is unconstitutional," people would look away in horror.

REP. PAUL: No, about half of them would, those on the receiving end. The other half, who are just going into the workforce, I offer this solution all the time to them -- get out of Medicare and get out of Social Security, but assume responsibility for oneself.

But at the same time, I say you don't have to put anybody out in the streets. We have plenty of money flowing into Washington. It's the way it's spent, and our priorities are all messed up. We can save hundreds of billions of dollars if we change our foreign policy and bring our troops home and actually build a stronger national fence but save money, cut the deficit, and take care of the people that have become dependent. I don't think it would work politically to put anybody out in the streets, but we have several generations now who have been very dependent.

A lot of people think that their money still is there in Social Security. So there's enough wealth in this country to do this, but my argument is if we continue to do what we're doing right now, we're going to have total destruction of the dollar, which means runaway inflation, and everybody's going to get poor and there won't be any transition period. So I'm arguing for the transition and offering people personal liberty --

MR. CARLSON: Good for you.

REP. PAUL: -- and the Constitution.

MR. CARLSON: I agree with you completely. Let's say you don't win the Republican nomination. Will you fight for a speaking spot at the Republican Convention in Minneapolis?

REP. PAUL: I guess I'll look at it and see what we do. You know, if we do well in the primaries and it's deserving, we certainly should do that.

MR. CARLSON: Would you ever entertain the idea of going third party?

REP. PAUL: I have no intention of doing that. That is not a very attractive thing to --

MR. CARLSON: Even if Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination, you would stand by and let him represent your party?

REP. PAUL: Well, I would think that he would have hijacked the party by then. It would be a pretty bad thing for the Republican Party. But right now I don't have plans. I have plans to keep doing what I'm doing and seeing if we can rally the Republican base, see if they can be talked into restoring the values of limited government, the foreign policy that George Bush even talked about in the year 2000 -- a humble foreign policy and no nation-building.

There's no reason why Republicans can't be antiwar and be fiscally conservative and believe in the Constitution, believe in personal liberties. There's no reason why conservatives can't be civil libertarians.

MR. CARLSON: Amen. I agree. And finally, Congressman, I keep reading about the money you have on hand. You've raised a lot of money and you have almost all of it still. You haven't spent virtually anything. Do you pay your staff? And where do you stay when you travel?

REP. PAUL: We stay in motels, like we do. We stay in the more modest hotels. And I still do fly commercial. We do have staff and we do pay some, but the staff is very modest. It's very small compared to the others. We have a lot of volunteers. As a matter of fact, we can't count our volunteers because they're out there doing their work and they're very independent.

So, yes, it's a frugal campaign, but we plan to spend that money. The money was sent to us for a purpose, and we are making our plans to be very, very much involved in especially these early primaries. And that will be the determining factor on how we do in the first five or six primaries.

MR. CARLSON: All right, Congressman Ron Paul, leader of the Ron Paul revolution. Congressman, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.

REP. PAUL: Thank you very much, Tucker.


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