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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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BLITZER: The Tea Party favorite Senator Rand Paul is not mincing any words at all when it comes to his assessment of Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich.

Senator Rand Paul is joining us now from Bowling Green, Kentucky, his home state. Senator, I was amazed when I read your op- ed piece in "Des Moines Register."

You didn't mince any words. I'll read a line from it for those of our viewers who didn't read it. You say this, Gingrich is not from the Tea Party. He's not even a conservative. He is part of the Washington establishment I was sent to fight. All right, go ahead and explain.

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, you know, I was part of the Tea Party Movement that was unhappy with some Republicans who voted for the bank bailouts and Newt Gingrich was a big champion of the bank bailouts.

So I don't know how he can be considered a conservative or appeal to Tea Party voters when the thing that really made us mad that got us started in this politics business was that we didn't like Republicans who voted for the bank bailouts.

And then it turns out he made millions of dollars from these big government banks while supporting more government bailouts. So I don't just know how once people get to know who is he and what he supported, I don't know how the Tea Party could support him.

BLITZER: You're talking about when he was on the payroll for Freddie Mac, that $1.6 million to $1.8 million he took in over a period of several years.

PAUL: Yes, but even more than just taking the money is that he supported a position that is diametrically opposed to the Tea Party. We in the Tea Party didn't like bailing out the big banks with taxpayer money.

We also were upset that Republicans voted to bail out the big banks and so I don't know how that sits very well. The other big issue that's going to be tough is a big issue for the Tea Party has been Obamacare.

Almost universally despised within the Tea Party and he has been for the individual mandate. That takes away a big issue for us with the president.

The president's going to look at Newt Gingrich and say, thanks for the ideas. Thanks for helping me get started with my health care plan and it's going to be hard to rebut if he's our nominee.

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

PAUL: I think any of our Republican nominees are better than President Obama, but I would like to have a really strong candidate and I would like not to have someone who people say, well, he's a conservative and then it turns out he's not.

That helps to destroy the conservative movement. You know, your previous person you had on just before I came on talked about him being a conservative bomb thrower. Well, half the bombs he's thrown at us. I mean, he's thrown them at us, but also at the conservatives as well.

Being for cap and trade, sitting with Nancy Pelosi and advertising his support for cap and trade, traveling with Al Sharpton and being in favor of the president's agenda on a federal takeover of education, these are just not conservative positions.

BLITZER: So you would hold your nose and go vote for Newt Gingrich as opposed to Barack Obama if that was the choice.

PAUL: Well, you know, we're still early on, Wolf. There's that Ron Paul guy and he's still got a good chance in Iowa, so I'm going to hold out and go ahead support Ron Paul for now.

BLITZER: I want to talk about your dad in a sec, but what about Mitt Romney? Who's a stronger potential Republican nominee? Would it be Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich from your Tea Party oriented, conservative perspective?

PAUL: I'd say they're different. I'd say with Mitt Romney, you get a moderate, pro business Republican that would also be better than President Obama. I think President Obama seriously is the most anti- business president we've ever had.

I really mean that seriously. Business is afraid to get started, afraid to expand, afraid to hire people because of Obamacare, because of Dodd-Frank. So I do see Romney as a better alternative.

But I see Romney for what he is. I think he is a moderate and he's a pro business Republican and I think he would beat the president. My problem with Newt Gingrich is that he portrays himself and wants to be a leader of the conservative wing of the party.

But he's been on both sides of all of these issues and that's why I like to show the contrast with my father, Ron Paul, who I think has been the most consistent fiscal conservative in recent memory in Congress.

BLITZER: You can explain this to me, give me your explanation. If President Obama's so anti-business, when he took office, the Dow Jones Industrials, Wall Street, around 7,000. It's now over 12,000. A dramatic, dramatic improvement over these past three years. How does that work out if he's so anti-business?

PAUL: Well, I'd say the stock market is somewhat of an illusion. I'm very worried about the stock market. When I talk to investors, I hear a lot of people say they're mostly in cash still.

And 12,000, you know, is obviously better than 7,000. We went through a horrible recession, but we still have 2 million more people out of work since he came into office. He added $100 billion in new regulation on business this year, so there are a lot of things that businesses fear. They mainly fear the uncertainty of these new regulations.

What will Obama care cost every small business man in the country? I think if you interview business and do the survey of business, you'll find that they are concerned with these policies.

BLITZER: I interviewed Donald Trump yesterday in New York. We had a little discussion about your dad, who rejected his invitation to participate in this December 27th News Max debate. Listen to this little change I had with Donald Trump about your dad and others who didn't want to go to the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: You know, honestly, they're not going to win. But --

BLITZER: Paul does have a big following.

TRUMP: But he's not going to win. He's not going to win. He's, you know, he's a wacky candidate and he's not going to win. It's a joke. And you know it and I know it and that's why he always complains he gets coverage. You cover people that are going to win, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right, he calls your dad a wacky candidate and a joke. That was a pretty strong word. A lot of these Republican candidates have gone to his office appealing for his support.

PAUL: Well, here's the funny thing. Last time I looked, Donald Trump has never won any elected office. Ron Paul's won federal office 11 times. So you call that what you think it is.

But the other things is look at Donald Trump. He wants to be this big Republican go-to guy. He's a huge supporter of Charlie Rangel. He's a huge supporter of Harry Reid. He's been a huge supporter of most of the prominent Democrats in the past two decades.

When he was talking and doing all this craziness about the president's birth certificate. I was up in New Hampshire and I told the media I wanted to see a certificate, right? I want to see Donald Trump's Republican certificate because I'm not sure if he is a Republican.

BLITZER: Describe your dad's path to victory? How would you see that? What does he need to do on Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida? Walk us through his strategy.

PAUL: Well, there's a certain amount of the party who are constitutional conservatives and I think he's getting a lot of that vote. He can only win though if he turns out independents. We are looking at independents in Iowa and New Hampshire.

They can vote in the primary. If they come out in a big way, he can win. When you see him, you guys have done, CNN has done some polling where you do Ron Paul against President Obama.

He does better than most of the Republican candidates because he captures a lot of independent vote because on the war issue, he's different than other Republicans.

He thinks we should be reluctant to go to war. We should have a strong national defense, but we should always have checks and balances and Congress should vote before we go to war.

BLITZER: And very quickly, I want you to react to George Wills column this week and suggesting it's not out of the realm of possibility, your dad might when all the dust settles, if he doesn't get the nomination, run as a third party candidate. What do you think?

PAUL: I guess, I have to repeat what my dad keeps saying, that he has no plans to do that and I take him at his word on that. I don't think it's a good idea, to tell you the truth.

I don't think it's a good idea for the Tea Party to break or for my dad necessarily because I think it would just elect the president again and I think we don't want that.

So I plan on staying in the Republican Party. I don't think it's a good idea to have a split away or break away movement. But my dad will make his own decisions. He has a mind of his own and we don't always agree on everything. We'll see what happens. He has been saying he has no plans to do it and I take him at his word on that.

BLITZER: As I've told your father on many occasions, he's very lucky to have a good son and loving, loyal son like you. Senator Paul, thanks very much for coming in.

PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

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