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Public Statements

CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We begin this morning with Congressman Ron Paul. The polls, Mister Paul, suggest that you're now in the thick of it out in Iowa; basically in a statistical tie with Romney, with Cain, and with Mister Gingrich. So I want to ask you some questions. Now that you're among the front-runners, we need to know more about your positions on the issues. And I want to start with foreign policy because your statements over the years posted on your website and elsewhere some of the things you have said in the debates suggest that you believe that 9/11 happened because of actions that the United States took. Is that correct?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (Republican Presidential Candidate/R-Texas): Oh, I-- I-- I think there's an influence. And that's exactly what, you know, the 9/11 Commission said. That's what the DOD has said. And that's also what the CIA has said and that's what a lot of researchers have said. And just remember immediately after 9/11 we removed the base from Saudi Arabia. So there is a connection. That doesn't do the whole full explanation. But our policies definitely had an influence. And you talk to the people who committed it and those individuals who would like to do us harm, they say, yes, we don't like American bombs to be falling on our country. And we don't like the intervention that we do in their nations. So to deny this I think is very dangerous. But to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we're free and prosperous I think is a very, very dangerous notion because it's not true.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I-- I would-- I would question the import of what some of those commissions found that-- that you've cited there. But basically what you're saying, Mister Paul, is that it was America's fault that 9/11 happened and it was our fault that it happened?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: No. I-- I think that's-- I think that's a misco-- misconstruing of what I'm saying because America is you and I. And we didn't cause it. The average American didn't cause it. But if you have a flawed policy, it may influence it. When Ronald Reagan went in to Lebanon, he was deeply-- he deeply regretted this because he said if he'd been more neutral those Marines wouldn't have died in Lebanon because the policy was flawed. The same thing that McNamara said after the Vietnam War. He wrote in his memoirs that, you know, if-- if he would have changed-- if it-- if we don't learn from our policies, it won't be worth anything. So I'm saying policies have an effect. But that's a far cry from blaming America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): I mean, in America you're supposed--

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. But-- yeah-- all right.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): --to be able to criticize your own government. You're supposed to be able to criticize your own government without saying you're un-American.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Of course. But what's your--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): And that's the implication is.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But what-- what you are saying it-- it was the government's fault. That-- that basically is what you're saying. Let me move on to-- from something else.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: I'm saying the policyma-- the policymakers' fault--

BOB SCHIEFFER: The policymakers fault.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): --contributed to it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): Contributed to it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. Am I correct that your idea of how to discourage Iran from building nuclear weapons is to be nicer to Iran's leaders? Is that correct?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, I-- I-- no. I think to be-- you know, we have twelve thousand diplomats, I'm suggesting that maybe we ought to use some of them. But just think of how we prevented a nuclear war with the Soviets when the Soviet mi-- missiles were reported in Cuba. We didn't say we're going to attack you. Kennedy and Khrushchev talked and they made a deal. You take your weapons out of Cuba, we'll take them out of Turkey. That's the kind of talk that I want. I don't-- I think the greatest danger now is for us to overreact. And this is what I'm fearful of. Iran doesn't have a bomb. There's no proof. There's no new information regardless of this recent report. And for us to overreact and talk about bombing Iran, that's much more dangerous. We got the--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: --we got the Libyans to-- to-- we got the Libyans to get rid of their nuclear power and their nuclear weapons. And look at what happened to them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): So--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Paul--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): We got to understand that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: May I interrupt just for a second. No one has suggested in the U.S. government that we are going to bomb Iran. What they have said is that we're going to impose--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Ah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --very tough sanctions. You are against sanctions on Iran, is that correct?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Yeah, be-- because sanctions are the initial step to war. I was opposed to all the sanctions for ten years in the bombing that was occurring with Iraq as I said it would lead to war. But if you say nobody is suggesting it, why don't you listen to the debates? I mean listen to--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister-- Mister Paul.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (overlapping): --the some of the other candidates.

BOB SCHIEFFER: May I correct you. I am listening to the debates. I know there have been some candidates who've talked about that including Mister Romney. The United States government--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --has not said we're going to bomb Iran. I mean that-- that's just a prank.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: No, Bob, actually they haven't said-- obviously, they haven't said that. But the implication is-- is nothing is off the table. You've heard those statements.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, yes. All right. Let's move on then. Do you think there is any place in the world where United States forces should be stationed? You've talked about bringing them home from Afghanistan, from-- from Iraq. Is there any place where you think it helps us to have U.S. forces stationed?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: No. Other than the fact that I think a submarine is a very worthwhile weapon. And I believe we can defend ourselves with submarines and all our troops back at home. This whole idea that we have to be in a hundred and thirty countries and nine hundred bases; now they've just invented a weapon that can hit any spot in the world in one hour.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): So you would--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: I mean, what's this idea? This is old-- this is old-fashioned idea that you have to keep troops on nine hundred bases around the world, makes no sense at all.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Besides we're bankrupt. We can't afford it any longer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you would-- you would-- if you were President, you'd bring home the troops from Japan; you'd bring home the troops from South Korea? You would. Okay.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Absolutely. And the people are with-- the people are with me on that because we can't afford it. It'd save us a lot of money. All those troops would spend their money here at home. And besides those troops overseas aggravate our enemies, motivate our enemies. I think it's a danger to our national defense and we can save a lot of money cutting out the military expenditures that contribute nothing to our defense.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me ask you about some domestic things. Your plan to get the country back on a firm financial footing is to close, including among other things, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Commerce, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. You would cut back the federal workforce by ten percent. You've also suggested we should close FEMA which is the emergency management agency. I--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --I have to ask you this. What do you do about all the things that those agencies control, run, supervise? For example, what-- what happens to the national parks if you close the Department of the Interior? Do we just let them go by the by or what?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: No. No-- no way. And-- and the program deals with this, there's transition funds. But we would like to see a lot of land sold off but we're not just going to ignore the parks. No, not-- not at all. I mean the-- the money isn't there. These are departments that are doing too much. The American people are sick and tired of our educational system. Just think of how we've been involved and give out loans and we educate students. The price that-- cost of education goes up. They graduate. They don't have jobs. And they have a trillion dollars worth of debt. We have to question that. This country is in bankruptcy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: We have to deal with it. We can't-- we can't remain in denial. And that is my argument. And believe me, this is why I'm getting a good reception on the campaign trail.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we want to thank you for coming on this morning and for answering the questions. Ron Paul, thanks for being here this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Thank-- thank you.

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