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

Interview

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CROWLEY: And that's the intrigue of the Paul campaign -- maximum commitment by voters in the face of minimal chances. His support now is too small to be a threat to Romney or Gingrich in the short run, but large enough to be a factor in the long run. And if Ron Paul shouldn't win, what's the price for his support? The Texas congressman joins me now from his home state. Thank you, congressman. I just want to take a look at your...

PAUL: Thank you.

CROWLEY: ...strategy at this point which is to go to these caucus states where we know your passionate supporters will show up and spend time talking politics. Where do you see a state where you can really breakthrough a through and come in first?

PAUL: Well, you know, after spending two days plus up in Maine, I was very encouraged. The turnouts were fantastic. Usually overflow crowds. Tremendous enthusiasm. The other candidates aren't paying much attention. The interest was phenomenal.

I think that's a real good place for us to break through.

CROWLEY: So you think you could possibly win in Maine when that caucus comes up?

PAUL: I'm -- yeah, I really do. We did pretty well three years ago, and we weren't nearly as well organized. And Romney's been popular up there, but less so right now. So I would say that we have a very good chance. We're going to have an excellent showing. And I don't know how many candidates really like to say, I am going to be in first place. Most of us don't -- don't do that. I guess some do it. But I don't think that's very healthy.

But I do really believe we're going to do quite well there and a very good chance of winning.

CROWLEY: This is not just a road less traveled, this is also a rough road for you on the way to the nomination. So difficult to put together enough delegates to actually win the nomination when your concentration is on just the caucus states.

If it becomes apparent at some time along the road before the June end to the primary season that you can't get enough delegates to win, do you see yourself dropping out, or do you see yourself going all the way to the convention?

PAUL: No, I think we'll -- we'll continue. And it is a rough road, but the rough road isn't, you know, presenting our case, the rough road is competing with, you know, establishment money, the big money. You know, when you talk about not a billion -- a million or two. We can raise those millions, but we can't compete with tens of millions of dollars for each individual state. And that's what, you know, came up in Florida. You need a lot of money. So it's a money game. And I think that's one of the things that frustrates a lot of people.

But, no, we're going to stay in and see what comes of it. And who knows what will come of the other two candidates. You know, there's been lots of ups and downs. So maybe there will be some downs and we might be able to pick up the pieces. CROWLEY: Surely there is always that. This has been a surprising primary season already. If you get to the convention and you intend to go there, as I understand from your answer, and if you have a large chunk of delegates, which is quite likely, what do you want in exchange for your support?

PAUL: You know, I really have never thought that through. I don't have a list, if you do a, b and c you're going to get support. I don't think people quite understand that I don't control things. I deliver a message. It gets people enthusiastic. But if I leave the fold and say, well, now that we have these, I'm going to deliver these votes, we don't even think in those terms. And I don't think the people that have supported our cause think that way either.

But, you know, I don't know how it'll pan out and what the discussion would be. I'm sure, you know, if we have -- if we have the delegates which would be on the margin, somebody's going to be talking to us. And I have no idea how that conversation would go.

CROWLEY: So without speaking for your supporters, speaking only for yourself, if you look at your three rivals now, could you endorse all of them? Can you see your way clear at where they stand at the moment on these issues? Could they get a Ron Paul endorsement?

PAUL: Well, you know, it would be difficult. But they're not fixed on their beliefs. They vary. And they have their ear to the political noise that they hear. And you know, I kidded the other night, you know, in the debate, you know, Newt is, you know, coming around on the monetary issues and really, you know, playing up and trying to appeal to us...

CROWLEY: Do you think he's doing that to appeal to your supporters, or do you think he's doing that because he believes it?

PAUL: I think -- you know, I don't know what's in his heart or his mind. But I think the politics of it all -- of it reflects the fact even if he believed it and thought it was still a crazy idea to quit printing money when you need it, he wouldn't say it. But evidently he probably has a belief that it does make sense and there's a political block out there.

So then I kidded, I said, well, I got you coming on the right way on money. Maybe I can get you to come that way on the foreign policy and not want to fight so many wars that are undeclared. And, of course, he chuckled a little bit, too.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Herman Cain who, you know, dropped out of the race but had a Tea Party following of some measure, at least, early on, has endorsed Newt Gingrich. How significant do you think that is?

PAUL: Probably not too much. I think sometimes, you know, we were identified with the beginning of the Tea Party, and yet the Tea Party is not a Tea Party. I mean, it's all over the place. Everybody's claiming they're Tea Party. Somebody like Newt Gingrich who'd been in politics all these years and an insider and claim he's leading the Tea Party movement, that's, to me a little strange.

But there is no one movement in the Tea Party. It actually started during our campaign four years ago.

But it is -- it represents a significant number of people who are frustrated with the process as well as -- as well as Occupy Wall Street. See, I talk to those people as well and try to bring them in, because it's the frustration level that is so high, and I think that's one of the things that has energized our campaign, because our meetings and rallies that we have are made up of Democrats and independents and frustrated Republicans and new voters.

Everybody knows about the new voters coming in that are enthusiastic and aren't very pleased with what they're offered by the other candidates.

CROWLEY: Congressman, I want to ask you to stand by for us a minute.

Coming up, policy with Ron Paul, including his reaction to President Obama's strategy on Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let there be no doubt, America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: We are back with Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Congressman, you heard going into our break the president saying he would take nothing off the table when it comes to Iran, which is code for, of course, I'll use military force if I have to. He got a rousing bipartisan applause for that. After Iraq, after Afghanistan, two wars that all the polls show Americans have tired of, does that surprise you that he got such a warm ovation for that statement?

PAUL: Well, I think they applaud the goal. I mean, that would be my goal, too. I don't want them to have a nuclear weapon. It's just the approach. I mean, if you would say, yes, I'm ready to invade and commit an act of aggression and go in and take over that country if nothing is off the table, when they say nothing is off the table, they're even talking about nuclear first strikes.

So I always think that the biggest danger is our overreaction. But if the people hear that in context that there's other ways to do it, if people understood what sanctions meant and that maybe -- maybe dealing with them in a different fashion, I don't -- they take one thing off the table and that is talking to them.

And so I would think that if they understood that sanctions literally enhances the power of the ayatollahs and undermines the Iranian people, because I have contacts with some of the Iranian people and Iranian-Americans, and they like what I say because -- and they don't like this idea of the aggressive approach because it brings out the strong nationalism, just as 9/11 brought us -- our people together in a nationalistic way, and this is what happens over there.

So he needs to add something to it. But he has already taken off the table, and too many of the Republican candidates, they take it off the table, that you can't even talk to them.

But my argument is that when the Soviets had 30,000 of these. We didn't take talking to them off the table, or even the Chinese. We started talking to them and started trading with them and the results were much better.

So I think -- I think unfortunately they have taken something off the table and we ought to reassess this aggressive approach to them.

CROWLEY: If you became president of the United States, who would be your secretary of defense?

PAUL: I haven't -- I haven't thought that through. I'm sure there are plenty that I could consider. But I haven't been in the mood to start picking and naming individuals.

CROWLEY: And let me move you to the state of the economy. The president got his chance to talk to the American people and give his version of what the state of the union is. When you look at the economy, had you been at that podium on Tuesday night, how would you have described the state of the economy?

PAUL: Well, I think -- I think the state of the economy of the world, because I think we're all involved in this worldwide because it's a dollar reserve standard that created this worldwide financial crisis, we're on a precipice.

We're in a crisis. And we have to understand how it came about. You have to understand monetary policy. You have to understand that you can't have excessive debt. You can't run up a debt. And this is the crisis. It's too much government, too much involvement, and that you have to cut back.

But the answer is not all that complicated, either. If you do the right things, we could work our way out of this. But if we continue to do what we're doing by both -- the leadership of both parties over these last four years is more spending and printing money and bailing out people, believe me, we're going to go over the cliff.

And I think that's what we have to work to try to prevent. So the economy is in shambles but we can correct it by just sound economic policies which are not complicated. CROWLEY: And let me turn you to another domestic policy issue. And that is, you had been raising money lately on your Web site on the notion of ending the TSA. Most people know those as the guards at the airport that, you know, pat you down and go through your stuff.

Your son obviously had a run-in with some TSA folks when he was trying to get on a plane. If you got rid of the TSA, what would you put in its place?

PAUL: Well, it shouldn't be government. You know, the people who protect very dangerous chemical plants, they're private sources, you know. They have their police guards. They have their fences. And they have their security. And they do a very good job.

The assumption that the government has to do this is the wrong assumption. I voted against the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA and it's a bureaucratic monster. It totally voids the concept of the Fourth Amendment, searches and prodding and poking, you know, with no permission.

And they trap us into it. There's no way you can travel if you don't do it. So I've said, you know, when you look at some of these pictures of probing groin areas and breast areas and all this, and old women having to take their clothes off, if we as a people are so complacent that we can look at that and say, oh, that's OK, they're making us safe.

It doesn't make us safe. It undermines our liberties and there's a much better way of giving us security at the airports than accepting the bureaucrats and the politicians in Washington. That is totally unacceptable from my viewpoint.

CROWLEY: Congressman Ron Paul, thank you for joining us today. We will see you along down the road.

PAUL: Thanks, Candy.

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