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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

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He's a candidate for president of the United States.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

At that last Republican debate, you really differentiated yourself from all the other Republican candidates, dare I say the Democratic candidate -- that would be the president of the United States -- as well, when you made it clear that on national security and foreign policy, you want to bring American troops home immediately from Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea.

Is that right?

PAUL: That is correct. And immediate, of course, can be qualified a little bit. You know, it takes a few days to get over there and pick them up.

No, as soon as possible. The American people are with me on that. The majority respond in that manner. I don't think we can afford it anymore. I don't believe it's in our best interests to be there, because I think it undermines our national security.

BLITZER: So including Germany and South Korea, bring those thousands of troops home?

PAUL: Yes. You know, the immediate benefit, before you reorganized and decided how big the Army and the Navy should be, is just think of all those troops spending all that money back at home. You know, a few years ago -- and they're thinking about doing it again -- they closed down all the bases here at home. Well, there are some bases in this country that probably shouldn't be open, but the ones overseas are more important to be closed down than the ones here.

So bring the troops home and have them spend all those salaries here at home, because Germany actually likes us to be over there for economic reasons. That helps them. It helps their economy, as well as the other countries.

So I would say the immediate effect would be even the psychological benefit of knowing, wow, things are changing. He's bringing these troops home. This is going to help our economy.

BLITZER: And I just want to clarify your position on Iran.

Do you believe Iran represents no real threat to the United States?

PAUL: No real threat. I think it's a threat just like there's a lot of threats around the world.

But if you compare it to what?

Compared to the Soviets that we stood down?

They had 30,000 nuclear weapons and that's when I was in the military. You know, during the Cuban crisis, is when I was drafted.

So, yes, there's always some threat. But there's not that much from a country like Iran. They -- they -- they can't even produce enough of their own gasoline. They don't have a real -- any inter- continental ballistic missile. I see that it's so similar, Wolf, to what was happening to the lead-up to the war in Iraq, because remember they kept saying, oh, there are al Qaeda over there and there's weapons of mass destruction, we have to go in there? It turned out not to be true. And just think of the tragedies that have occurred since then.

So, no, I don't think it's a real threat. And our CIA, as well as the United Nations, does not argue the case that they're on the verge, you know, of having a -- a nuclear weapon. So the last thing in the world we should be talking about is a war. And remember just recently, Bob Gates, coming home, he says, you know, anybody that's thinking about another war needs their head examined. And I think that's the way the American people feel.

BLITZER: Because the president and other top officials, they -- they expressed fear that the Iranians are working to try to build a bomb, even though they may not be on the verge of having it, they're -- they're in the process of trying to develop one.

You don't agree?

PAUL: Well, I think they -- they sure -- certainly would have an incentive. But we haven't been able to verify it. That's what my argument is.

But I even extend it one step further.

What if they -- you know, what if, in one year from now, they have one nuclear bomb?

What are they going to do with it?

They can't deliver it. And -- and if they tried to, they'd be wiped off the face of -- they'd be wiped off the face of the earth because there would be retaliation. So they -- they aren't that threat that people play -- play them up to be.

As a matter of fact, Iran has a pretty good history of not invading other countries and -- and looking for these kind of fights. The last time they were in a war is when we instigated Iraq's invasion of the Iranians.

So, no, I don't -- I just don't see that as a -- as a major threat. I -- I see --

BLITZER: All right --

PAUL: -- the radicalization of Islam fundamentalism as a result of our foreign policies going back all the way to 1953.

BLITZER: For years, you've been an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, the central bank, in effect, here in the United States.

Now Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, your opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, he's going one step further and blasting Ben Bernanke, the chairman, who was originally named by President Bush.

Let me play the clip and then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. I mean printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous, in my opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Congressman. You're a fellow Texan. What would do you to Ben Bernanke if he came to your state?

PAUL: I'd try to educate him. I'd try to explain to him why he's embarked on a terrible course of history and that he's not going to be remembered well unless he changes his way.

But hopefully you've never heard and at least I try never to make it the individual as much as the philosophy, the Federal Reserve system. They say -- sometimes they'll ask me, "What would you do? Would you immediately get rid of Bernanke? Will that solve our problems?"

And it really doesn't. It's the system. It's the Federal Reserve system. It's the fiat money, it's no backing to the currency, the monetization of debt, the way they do it in secret, the $15 trillion that they worked with in the bailout, the way they bailed out foreign central banks and foreign governments during the crisis. A third of that money went over there.

So I would say it's the philosophy, it's monetary policy that we have to deal with. So he is not my target, even though I hopefully address it in a different manner when he's before the committee and try to ask him questions to expose what he's doing in running the monetary system.

BLITZER: So did Rick Perry cross the line in talking about treason, talking about getting ugly? I mean, you know your governor. Tell me, is he temperamentally qualified to be president of the United States?

PAUL: Well, it may surprise you, I don't know the governor. I don't recall ever having met him.

BLITZER: Really?

PAUL: No, I haven't met him. I didn't know he had an interest. And I don't know exactly what he's up to.

So I just don't use that language. I would think that he wasn't being literal. You know, I just don't believe that he believes that, but those words did come out of his mouth, as you just revealed. But I think it's different. In politics, it's very easy to target somebody by name and target your opponents and talk about them specifically. In many ways, I try not to do that.

BLITZER: It's hard for me to believe he's been governor for 10 years and he doesn't know one of the most distinguished members of the congressional delegation. But let me move on, because we're almost out of time.

Has the national news media been fair to you?

PAUL: Well, a lot of other people say they have not been.

BLITZER: What do you say?

PAUL: I think candidates have this belief that they're never treated really fairly. But generally speaking, I would say it was really weird. And in that sense, I guess that verges on what people are saying, it was very unfair that I did pretty well, you know, in Ames and achieved a bit of a victory, from our perspective, and then to have five networks not take any interviews -- and then we had one major network on Monday morning that got canceled at the last minute.

So it was definitely different, but I don't dwell on the word "fairness" and what am I going to do about it. I just try to keep doing my job and presenting my case. And I figure, you know, we've probably sort of won that little argument, because we did get many, many interviews and many, many things on the Internet, where I think we benefited by showing, what are they afraid of? Why can't they recognize what Ron Paul is doing?

BLITZER: Yes. Sorry for interrupting, but I just want to ask you one final question. A Twitter follower asked me to ask you, "If you don't get the Republican nomination, would you consider running as an Independent?"

PAUL: I haven't thought about that. Right now I'm concentrating -- I'm in the middle of a race.

I described it today as like I used to run track. I don't think much about the end. I just run hard and see how things come out. But as far as contemplating a third party, that has not given me any serious thought at all.

BLITZER: Congressman, I'll see you September 12th, when CNN hosts the Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Florida. Good luck.

PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

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