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REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
CHETRY: I want to take a look at the latest CNN poll. We actually just released about 90 minutes ago. Take a look at the field of GOP contenders, you come in sixth place with about 7 percent of the vote. This is your third time running. What are you looking to do in tonight's debate to win over more voters?
PAUL: Well, sometimes I question some of these polls, but that's a different story. But no, I don't change strategy. I just keep doing the same thing and it's always been building.
Certainly there is an explosion of interest in what I've been doing for 30 years, four years ago in the last campaign, and it's continued. The momentum has continued. So I think I just have to continue to do what I'm doing and have been doing because the country has finally awakened and found out what we've been doing is wrong.
I've been warning people about the deficit, warning people about the stupid foreign policy and the wars that we continue to fight, the silliness of printing money when we need it and people are starting to wake up and say, yes, that makes a lot of sense. This is what I have been talking about for a long time. So I would say I'm not adapting to the status quo as much as challenging the status quo and the status quo right now is moving in my direction, is moving rapidly. So our campaign is pretty optimistic about what's happening.
CHETRY: Right. I mean, when you bring up the point and a lot of ways it really should be your time because these issues that you've talked about and I remember interviewing you back in 2008 about cutting spending, cutting the debt, shrinking government. Really you're front and center now.
Then again there are some other views like isolationism that could potentially keep you from being a mainstream Republican candidate. So do you really think that there's a path to victory for you even though some of your stances are a little bit controversial?
PAUL: Well, they certainly are tried to be made controversial by the media who always wants to use the word isolationism because that is not what I'm talking about. If anybody studies what I'm doing will know you can't use that word.
I talk about non-intervention. I'm a free trader. I don't want closed borders and, you know, I just think that there's a big difference between not aggressively starting wars versus isolationism.
Isolationism is closing ourselves off from the world and I want to take the advice of the founders and follow the constitution. That is get along with other countries, promote trade and promote travel.
That's what we need to do so it's the last thing in the world from isolationism and besides, it's very traditional and very American and it's very --
CHETRY: I was just --
PAUL: Go ahead.
CHETRY: You're taking issue with the term, let's lose the term. Let's just talk a little bit about some of the positions that you've talked about. A pull out from Afghanistan at a faster pace. Iraq.
What about Libya, Yemen, some of these other countries where we are involved in, whether it's major show of ground troops, know, but at least some sort of military intervention, be it drones or special operations forces, what would be your stances on some of those?
PAUL: What it's been for a long time, just come home and quit that. The majority of the American people are saying that. They're sick and tired of a 10-year war and now that Bin Laden is killed, especially now, just come home.
I mean, the foolishness of going into Iraq, and now under U.N. orders and no permission from the Congress, going into Libya, starting another battle in Yemen, in Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, we can't afford it. I mean the people know it. They're sick and tired of it. So I don't think this is strange at all. I think I am mainstream America right now on this foreign policy.
CHETRY: You also said that you would -- there's no authority in the constitution for FEMA. After some of the disasters we've seen this year, I mean, technically the government wouldn't be there to help people in their neediest hour.
PAUL: Yes. Well, they don't do a very good job, FEMA has a bad reputation. I live on the coast and I've taken a very strong stand against the problems that FEMA causes and believe me, we got tons of calls when the hurricanes hit, because FEMA gets in the way and take over.
They're very costly. FEMA and that whole concept of insuring people with other taxpayers' money to go and deliberately build in dangerous places, I mean, it's so anti-economic to encourage people to do the things that the marketplace wouldn't allow them to do.
But just think of the recovery effort with the major hurricanes in the last several years. It doesn't have a very good record and no, it isn't in the constitution. When did we get into the insurance business? I mean, it's not there.
CHETRY: I mean, just imagine --
PAUL: And FEMA, let me finish. FEMA is also about $18 billion in debt so it's not a very successful organization.
CHETRY: Taking the challenges, perhaps, of the organization itself aside, could you see yourself as President Ron Paul standing there saying, I'm so sorry your entire town of let's say Joplin, Missouri, is wiped away, but the federal government can't do anything for you?
PAUL: Well, I think following the law, that's a little presumptuous forming a question like that. No, we try to make things work, but the whole thing is, if they paid into and as part of the system, but long term and philosophically it's not a good idea.
But so much of what we do in Washington is not a good idea. But you try to make it work the best you can and maybe somebody like myself who's a strict fiscal conservative, might be able to manage some of these things better until we decide that it is not the proper role of government.
Now, it is in this stuff, you know, like, you're not for the welfare state so you don't care about poor people. You don't care about medical care. It's such -- you know, challenge that just don't make -- doesn't make any sense.
CHETRY: All right. Well, I know you're gearing up for debate tonight. It was great to get some of your thoughts this morning. Congressman Ron Paul from Texas this morning, we'll be watching you tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.
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