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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

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CROWLEY: Through it all Paul's proven support in Iowa has not wavered. He is marching on, dropping major cash for ads in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he's confident enough about Iowa to spend this weekend at home in Texas. I spoke to the Congressman earlier this morning.

Congressman Paul, thank you so much for joining us this morning. A new "Des Moines Register" poll is out. It shows you in second place, very close to Mitt Romney at this point.

Another figure that caught our eye goes back to what so many of your colleagues on the campaign trail have been saying about you this weekend, that is that you are unelectable. That has been quite the word when they talked about you this week. And in this poll, 29 percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers also found you the least electable of all the candidates. Why is that?

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, maybe it's not true. I've been pretty electable. I was elected 12 times once people got to know me in my own congressional district. So I think that might be more propaganda than anything else. So we'll wait and see. And we'll know a lot more about how the election goes tomorrow.

CROWLEY: Being elected among folks that know you in a small district in Texas is somewhat of a less daunting task than across the country, and there is the feeling -- and I'm sure you heard your colleagues say he's not electable, he's too far outside the mainstream, his views on foreign policy, et cetera, et cetera,.

I wanted you to respond again to that, but I want you to listen. You've been very tough on Newt Gingrich, calling him a serial hypocrite, et cetera, et cetera. And he replied in kind. and I want you to take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I think as a protest, he's a very reasonable candidate.

As a potential president, a person who thinks the United States was responsible for 9/11, a person who believes -- who wrote in his newsletter that the World Trade Center bombing in '93 might have been a CIA plot, a person who believes it doesn't matter if the Iranians have a nuclear weapon, I'd rather just say you look at Ron Paul's total record of systemic avoidance of reality.

And you look at his newsletters and then you look at his ads. His ads are about as accurate as his newsletters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So, Congressman Paul, you have denounced these newsletters that he's talking about. But, again, the idea that your views are outside the mainstream, about 9/11 and so many other things, your reaction? PAUL: Well, that's a gross distortion, and you could spend a long time trying to, you know, dispute what he's saying, but it's gross distortion. But the bigger question is why are the rallies going so well for him? Why are the crowds getting bigger and bigger?

Why is it that 70 percent of the American people want us to get out of Afghanistan? Why do about 85 percent of the people want us to rein in the Federal Reserve? Why do so many, especially conservative Republicans, want us to cut back, and nobody is offering any cuts?

So I would say that I'm pretty mainstream. I think that people who are attacking me now are the ones who can't defend their records, and they've been all over the place. They've been flip-flopping and they can't defend themselves. And they're having a little trouble finding any flip-flops on me, so they have to go and dig up and distort and demagogue issues.

But if you look at the real issues that count, I wish we would concentrate on that, and that is the foreign policy, the spending, the monetary policy, the personal liberties that I talk about all the time. And under those -- with those conditions, this is where I get the support.

And not only is it with Republicans, but these views are really, really, you know, attractive to the independents and the Democrats. So the rallies, it is true, people say, oh, well, he's going to have some independents come in.

Well, that's the name of the game. You get people. You bring coalitions together. You get the frustrated progressives, you get the independents, you get the Republicans who truly want spending cuts. And, all of a sudden, I'm mainstream. So they're looking for things. They're struggling. And they're demagoguing the issue.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, you have addressed a lot of these complaints about past writings that were at least under your name, but that you said you had no knowledge of and didn't write. But there was one thing that caught my eye, when I was looking through some of the briefing books.

And it was something that was in the Congressional Record that you inserted into the Congressional Record from June of 2004. And I wanted to talk to you about it. You said, contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom.

Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty. So my question to you is, whose individual liberty did it diminish? And do you think the country would have been better off in terms of race relations without the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: Well, we just could have -- we could have done it a better way because the Jim Crow laws, obviously had to get rid of and we're all better off for that. And that is an important issue, so I strongly supported that. What you don't want to do is undermine the concept of liberty in that process. And what they did in that bill was they destroyed the principle of private property and private choices.

So if you do this, all civil liberties are protected by property rights, where it's your TV stations -- that's a piece of property -- or whether it's the newspaper, whether it's the church building, or whether it's the bedroom. This is something that people don't quite understand, that civil liberties aren't divorced from property.

So if you try to improve relationships by forcing and telling people what they can't do, and you ignore and undermine the principles of liberty, then the government can come into our bedrooms. And that's exactly what has happened.

Look at what's happened with the PATRIOT Act. They can come into our houses, our bedrooms our businesses. And so the principle private property has been in their mind. And it was started back then.

But they can't twist that and say that I was against or favored Jim Crow laws or anything else. I mean, it's the government that causes so much of the racial tensions, when you look at anything from slavery on down to segregation in the military and the Jim Crow laws.

And right now, the real problem we face today is the discrimination in our court system, the war on drugs. Just think of how biased that is against the minorities. They go into prison much way out of proportion to their numbers. They get the death penalty out of proportion with their numbers.

And if you look at what minorities suffer in ordinary wars, whether there's a draft or no draft, they suffer much out of proposition. So those are the kind of things of discrimination that have to be dealt with, but you don't ever want to undermine the principle of private property and private choices in order to solve some of these problems.

You need to repeal the very, very bad laws that governments have propagated over the many centuries, because it is the government, so often, that institutionalized segregation and slavery and all the other things.

So the understanding of private property would solve our problems. And we indeed need to look at the war on drugs, if anybody cares about the -- about the abuse of our civil liberties and the abuse of minorities in the court system.

CROWLEY: Congressman, stick with me a minute. After the break, more with Ron Paul on his Republican rivals and those never-ending rumors about a third party bid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Back with Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul.

Congressman, on Iran, a lot of your colleague on the campaign trail have said this idea that it's OK for Iran to require -- to acquire nuclear power, which you have -- they say you have suggested is no big deal, is one of the huge things that they hit you on.

We're now learning that scientists in Iran have produced the country's first nuclear fuel rod, this according to Iran itself. Does nothing give you pause about a country like Iran, which is an enemy of the United States, basically, acquiring nuclear weaponry?

PAUL: Sure, it does, and those words you were trying to put in my mouth just aren't true. I'm very concerned about it. As a matter of fact, I would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons.

At least Iran is in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that's a step and they do have inspections. The AEIE did not find any evidence that they are on the verge of a weapon.

You know, and even the head of the Mossad in Israel are saying, well, you know, they -- even if they had a weapon they are not an existential threat. So I think we need to get this in the balance.

I don't want them to have a weapon. We have to be careful. We have to contain them if they do get one. But if even Israel's top Mossad leaders are saying they would not be an existential threat and we if we said go easy -- as a matter of fact, Myer Dagan (ph) said bombing those sites right now would be stupid.

So I would say that we just need to be more cautious. I think if we overreact and participate in bombing Iran, we're looking for a lot more trouble. We went into Iraq carelessly. We don't need a war in Iran carelessly.

So this is my argument. But to say that I don't care, that's just not fair.

CROWLEY: OK, let me move you on to politics since we're kind not political world right now we're in Iowa.

You have not precisely ruled out a third-party bid. I'm wondering if some of these attacks on you that have been out there the past 10 days have given you any pause about staying inside the Republican party.

PAUL: I haven't even thought about it except when people like you keep asking me about it because I have a race going. I'm essentially tied for first place, and why would I even consider doing anything like that?

So -- but I don't like absolutes. I don't want to say I will never do so-and-so. But -- I have no plans in doing it. We're doing very, very well. And people should just be a little bit patient, you know. You know, on Tuesday, we're going to find out a lot more about the future of this election.

CROWLEY: And you have also said that your support of your -- any colleague that might beat you and become the Republican nominee would depend on how close they came to your views on certain things. In particular, does that include oversight of the Fed or what in particular are you talking about?

And who comes closest, do you think, of being a candidate you could support right now should they beat you?

PAUL: Well, I think they all fit the status quo. None of them really challenges foreign policy. They don't challenge the spending. Nobody has proposed any real cuts, nobody really challenged the Federal Reserve.

But I think this is going to shift. Matter of fact, they do hint at a -- a few of them have said something about auditing the Fed and others, at times, have hinted that maybe we ought to be a little more cautious and little more diplomatic with our foreign policy. So I'd have to wait and see, you know, what the platform looks like.

CROWLEY: What do you make -- one of the interesting things, I think, about the "Des Moines Register" poll today is that it was a three-day poll, but if you take just the last few days, Rick Santorum overtakes you and goes into second place showing that he really is gathering up some momentum.

What do you think the appeal is there with Rick Santorum? Why has he suddenly become kind of the person to watch?

PAUL: Well, maybe it's the people who just got frustrated with the other ones and they're just shifting their views. That's one thing you can't say about my supporters. They don't shift their views. Once they join and understand what the cause of liberty is all about, what the foreign policy is all about and the monetary policy is all about, they don't leave.

So the other group, they've been shifting back and forth and they're up and down. So I think it's part of that.

CROWLEY: One of the other things that the poll showed is when they talked to your supporters, 56 percent of them said they were definitely going. That is lower than the number of the -- of Romney supporters who said they would go and lower than the number of Santorum supporters who said they would be going.

What do you think has happened here? Because we so often say, you know, Ron Paul has the best turnout operation. He is the one that is really working on the ground, and yet 56 percent of the supporters say they're definitely going.

PAUL: They're definitely what?

CROWLEY: They're definitely going to go caucus. Fifty-six percent of people of likely caucus-goers only will say that they're definitely going. So, in other words, more than 40 percent --

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Well --

CROWLEY: -- say they may not go.

PAUL: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't bet too much money on that kind of a statistic. I mean, we have the names and the telephone numbers and the enthusiasm. So I don't think -- only Tuesday is going to tell you how that's going to work out. We're pretty optimistic about getting our people there.

CROWLEY: Give me a prediction here in the last 30 seconds, Congressman. Are you going to pull this out in Iowa, and if you do, what does it mean for the future of your campaign?

PAUL: I have no idea what's going to happen. I may come in first, I may come in second. I doubt I'll come in third or fourth. And the future of the campaign for liberty will always be ongoing, and I think we're doing to have a good showing. We already have had. And we're doing quite well in New Hampshire.

So I would say the momentum for the cause of freedom in this country and restoration of the Constitution, a sensible foreign policy and addressing the Federal Reserve and our economic crisis and spending, I would say the people are with me on this and the momentum is going to continue regardless of exactly what happens and what place I am on Tuesday night.

CROWLEY: Congressman Ron Paul, thanks for joining us. We will see you a little later here in Iowa.

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