The Evening Bulletin - Paul Refuses To Hold Back In Candid Q-And-A
By: Chris Freind
Freindly Fire recently sat down with Ron Paul to discuss the 2008 election:
FF: Congressman, let's talk about media exposure in this presidential campaign. It's no secret that the previous "debates" have been inherently unfair in that the moderators showed blatant bias to the so-called "top tier" candidates. As an example, you were asked significantly fewer questions yet received the loudest applause. Despite the fact that you win debate and straw polls, the media has not, overall, recognized your success, preferring to "admonish" you for your position on the Iraq war (e.g., Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly). Would you be willing to participate in a true "gloves off" debate in which the candidates are encouraged to question each other, with direct candidate-to-candidate rebuttals?
RP: Sure. I am always looking for opportunities - I go wherever I'm invited! People say that these debates are unfair, that we don't get as much time as the others do, and that it's a canned program. The only thing worse would be not allowing us to have any time. The little bit of time I've gotten has been the instrument where we've gained national attention, and that's why the Internet has picked us up so much.
FF: Since the debates don't allow for direct exchanges, if you could ask your opponents a direct question, what would it be?
RP: Why do you act like Democrats? You do everything the Democrats did. You're doing all the things we accuse the Democrats of doing. You're big spenders and champions of welfare programs, even though you condemned President Clinton for nation-building. And now you're losing your shirt, you lost last year, you're running up the deficit, you're in the entitlement business, you don't care about personal liberties, and you've taken up Bill Clinton's foreign policy [of nation-building]. It doesn't make any sense. Why would you do it if you know it's hurting the party?
FF: Speaking of that "do anything" mentality, 2006 was clearly a disastrous year for the Republican Party. Why did they lose, and what needs to change if 2008 is to be a better year? Has that catalyst for change occurred?
RP: It hasn't occurred. I am trying to make it occur. But if we continue down the road we're going now, it's not likely to change. We lost because we deceived the people. We told them we were for less government and balanced budgets, yet we increased the size and scope of government, we let the spending accelerate, and justifiably the electorate came down on us. They un-elected a lot of us. You know, for the old saying that incumbents are really tough to beat, we lost quite a few last time - for a big shift. They're losing because they don't act like Republicans, and they resent it when that fact is pointed out to them by someone who has been voting very conservatively and very much in tune with the platform. The party has lost credibility, and to win again, they need to have credibility.
FF: On the issue of abortion, Rudy Giuliani has made clear his pro-abortion position, even saying that the Republican Party "has to get beyond issues like that." Given his liberal stances on guns, gay rights, sanctuary cities and abortion, what will happen to the Republican Party if he were become the nominee?
RP: It probably depends a lot on who the opponent is. I think they are on the road to having a worse election in 2008 than they did in 2006. A lot of people I talk to confidentially think we're going to be much worse off after next year. That's what many members of Congress believe, and that's why you're starting to see Republican members retire - not running for re-election. I think they are very pessimistic because of the potential of someone like Giuliani becoming the nominee. The Republicans are betting on the belief that if they demonize Hillary enough, that "anybody but Hillary" will work. That is just a partisan, narrow, "anti-somebody" view. Some in the Republican base, even some evangelicals, may be so pro-war that they would probably still go out and vote for someone like Giuliani because he promises to perpetuate the vague war on terrorism and the precise war against Iran and Iraq. There doesn't seem to be a lot of resistance to that from those I share the stage with, but when the people hear the other side, they're not so anxious to go with him.
FF: You have delivered over 4,000 babies, and you have a 100 percent pro-life voting record. People know where you stand. How do you view Mitt Romney's recent switch or "conversion" on the abortion issue? Do you find that credible?
RP: I don't have a strong judgmental view on that - I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I just wonder if he might not be closer to his roots now than he was before, and he was more hypocritical when he was running as a liberal. I think of Mormons as being conservative people, very strong right-to-life and family-oriented. They have a very good reputation. I give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think the flip-flopping is a real issue - one that people should be responsible for. But I think it will be sad that if he loses traction, it's not because of his positions but because he has a certain, particular religious view. I don't like that at all, no matter who it is. I'd like to see people oppose him because he won't change our foreign policy of militancy, and he's willing to send more kids off to die, and he doesn't understand why we're being attacked. That to me is a real reason, not because he's a Mormon.
FF: Speaking of flip-flopping, the one universal view of Ron Paul is that you always know where he stands. This seems to have taken on a life of its own. Not too long ago, conventional wisdom was that the Paul campaign couldn't raise money, had minimal support and would be short-lived. However, from Arizona to New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, the overwhelming majority of bumper stickers and yard signs are advocating you. You have won numerous straw polls and televised debates. Your fundraising has skyrocketed while other candidates' numbers have dropped significantly. One contender dropped out, and Romney had to pump millions of his own fortune into his war chest. Even many Democrats talk favorably about Ron Paul. Why is this? What makes you so unique? Will this appeal translate into votes in the early states, and if so, how will that change the dynamic of the race?
RP: You bring up an interesting point. I was on the House floor, and at least seven or eight members came up to me and said, "All I see are Ron Paul signs all over my district!" I'm not surprised that the message is such a powerful message, because I have been such a strong believer in that message. But I have conditioned myself over thirty years to just quietly present the message and let the chips fall where they may. If I had to vote by myself, I did that and wrote my statement explaining why I felt that way. My goal was to be elected on certain promises, take my oath of office seriously, vote that way and hopefully get an increase in margins. I have been able to do that. But all of a sudden that message has gotten out and has spread like wildfire - there was a vacuum sitting out there. The war is going badly, there are more economic concerns that anyone in Washington is willing to admit, and the young people are inheriting this - they are getting a bum rap. Whether they have to go fight the war, pay for the war, not receive any Social Security - and now they hear this message of freedom and individual liberty. They want to be left alone to make their own personal choices; their lives are their own. Let them spend all of their money the way they want. None of this income tax! Get out of Social Security if they want, bring our troops home, take care of America! Take care of our bridges here and don't blow up bridges all over the world and then pay to rebuild them. The people have grabbed hold of this message. It wasn't like we had a grand scheme or that we had someone well known like a Ronald Reagan or that we had a lot of money. We presented our ideas, it got out, and every single day it's more so. It's way beyond my capability, so it must be the vacuum, the conditions that exist, and the message. I will never back away from the message.
FF: That message is resonating.
RP: I present it in a very positive way. Who can be against freedom? What's the matter with sound money, what's the matter with self-reliance? That message is what made America great!