CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Ron Paul
Date: Dec. 2, 2011
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: Congressman Ron Paul is joining us now from Manchester, New Hampshire. That's a pretty important state.

Congressman, thanks as usual for coming in.

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

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about Newt Gingrich. That was a pretty tough ad. What is your basic problem with the former speaker of the House?

PAUL: Well, I think that my goal was to get information out, you know, and it wasn't so much that I was verbalizing or giving opinions as much we took and tried to do some reporting on what he has said in the past on where he stands now.

And it's something that contrasts him from where I stand because I usually get compliments because I haven't been charged with having changed my position and I've been around for a couple of years and have been saying things. But most people realize that I keep saying the same thing over again and it becomes more popular.

Where in his case, he tries to catch up and change his position to fit the particular time in which he's speaking.

So, I think it was to make that point, but it was also to show that other people were saying that, you know, and to dramatize it, to show that he does change his position and not -- and that's one of the issues of the campaign. People change in campaigns and not being able to rely on politicians. That's what this whole mess is about in government today.

Why there's a Tea Party movement and why there's a sit-in movement. And the people are just very frustrated with this and we were pointing this out that he has not been consistent on his position over the years.

BLITZER: What's the most important inconsistency as far as Newt Gingrich is concerned, that comes to your mind and causes you concern?

PAUL: The one that bothers me the most is probably getting a million and a half dollars from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When I think about that, about an institution that I had been challenging for more than 10 years, I wanted to stop the financial bubble and the housing bubble from forming.

He really indirectly at least gets the money from the taxpayer because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be bailed out and we had to pay those debts that were run up and here he was getting a lot of money from them and it's not a conservative position.

It's a bailout position so he made money off the bailout. You know, if you add up the numbers and put it all together, so, that to me was rather annoying because it was something I worked so hard to prevent.

So it's sort of ironic to think that the American people now are seriously considering, you know, that he's supposed to come in and straighten things out. That sort of is bewildering to me.

BLITZER: We've reported he made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, not from Fannie Mae. I don't know if that makes a difference to you.

But that's just a technicality. He also says he never ever lobbied in his life. I want your reaction when he says he was providing historical advice to them. He was giving them educational advice, but he never lobbied. Is that acceptable to you?

PAUL: That might be a legal description, but if he isn't, what is he being paid for is to influence or introduce people, so that's a technicality on what does lobbying mean. As a matter of fact, lobbying is perfectly illegal.

I mean, the First Amendment allows us to lobby and petition our government so that is not relevant. It's whether you're using your position to make a lot of money. So whether you're just going to give advice on history, I mean, I don't think a whole lot of people buy into that.

I think there is some -- he was important, because he was an important figure. He's very influential. He knew a lot of people and he could sell his advice. And if you don't want to call it lobbying, I mean, who's going to worry about the definition?

BLITZER: If he's the Republican nominee, could you support him?

PAUL: You know, Newt has come around on some of the positions that are important to me. Matter of fact, he's so different on these Freddie Mac business, but you know, he has talked about -- and he personally has told me I was right on that. If he would come around on those issues and he could convince me that it's just not flipping around for an advantage, I would look at it and try to look at it seriously and see if he really wants -- and these sorts of things.

But there's a lot that -- a lot of questions I'd have to ask because just think of the last debate how super supportive he was of the Patriot Act, which I think if we have had, the repeal the Fourth Amendment, probably wouldn't have passed.

But I see the Patriot Act as a repeal of the Fourth Amendment so we have a great deal of differences on civil liberties. I would have a great deal of difficulty, but I shouldn't be closed minded to it.

BLITZER: Who's a bigger problem as far as you're concerned? If he were to get the Republican nominee, in other words, who would be worse as a Republican nominee? Would it be Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney?

PAUL: Worse in what way, position wise or as a candidate?

BLITZER: Worse from your perspective on the substantive issues most important to you.

PAUL: Do I have to choose? I'm not anxious to pick and choose between --

BLITZER: It's a free country. You don't have to if you don't want.

PAUL: But I have been challenged -- I think to be fair, you could probably find and I think the media has pointed out some of the flip- flops that Romney has made, but I think I was more energized to do something when I found these things he had said. I thought they were more meaningful.

BLITZER: We invited a lot of our viewers to send us questions. When you do that, you have a lot of fans as you well know on Facebook and Twitter.

We got some questions and I'm going to read some to you. Let me get your quick response. Steven Harris on Facebook sent in this question for you, Congressman.

I would like a vow from him that he will not run as a third party candidate. He has some good ideas, but if he were to run, he would hand the crown to Obama for four more years. Hope he isn't this selfish.

Congressman, what do you say to Steven Harris?

PAUL: Well, I don't plan to run. I'm not thinking about it. I'm in a good race. We're doing better. Second or third place in both states, but I don't make vows over television programs and like to talk in absolutes because none of us are ever absolutely right on anything we do or say so I'm not going to make a vow.

But I would take an oath of office very seriously like I would for Congress and I'll take my oath of office as a very serious issue, but not to take a vow on something like this, which I don't think is going to accomplish a whole lot.

There's no intention, no plan. I am absolutely encouraged by what's happening now in the campaign. And you're discussing that at this moment on your station and we are going exceptionally well in Iowa.

And we are in New Hampshire doing quite well here, too. This last month is very, very important so the last thing on my mind is wondering about doing something somewhere else afterwards. I have enough on my mind.

BLITZER: Got your hands full right now. Here's another question from Janet. Congressman, what does he think about all this Herman Cain mess?

PAUL: I'm tired of it. And I think this is one of the reasons that I wanted to talk about Newt Gingrich and get some news out on him. I think that's what the media should have been talking about is some of these positions, but I don't say that they shouldn't have covered Herman Cain, but I am pretty tired of it.

It's just on and on and on. There should be a limit. There should be statute of limitations. You know, after about two or three weeks, maybe we could ease off a little bit.

But I think these other issues on the positions of the candidates and whether they're not being consistent or not or what their positions really are and being challenged.

I mean, I'd like to see more challenging on this whole idea that I thrown out there is does the Patriot Act really repeal the fourth amendment. Are these things important? That to me is way more important than dwelling hour after hour and day after day on the personal life of Herman Cain.

BLITZER: One final question before I let you go, extending the payroll tax cut is a big issue. The Republicans have one idea of paying for it. The Democrats have another idea for paying for it.

How will you vote when the dust settles to extend the payroll tax cut, which could provide $1,000 for the average American family next year?

PAUL: I definitely would vote. I never vote to raise taxes and that would be voting to put the tax back on so I would definitely for extending it.

But I would insist that we pay for it and I would want to cut, all we'd have to do is cut about 10,000 or 15,000 people out of the embassy in Baghdad and bring them home and we could pay for it and do it.

Cut some overseas spending and make sure people get even more tax breaks and not think that you have to pay for it by raising taxes on somebody else. BLITZER: Ron Paul, the congressman, the Republican presidential candidate. Good luck on there in New Hampshire, in Iowa. We'll, of course, be watching.

PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

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