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ABC "This Week" - Transcript

Interview

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Congressman Paul, thanks for joining us this morning.

PAUL: Thank you. Good to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you're in third place right now, fighting for second in Nevada, but you did come in second in 2008. It must be hard not to be disappointed by not having that secure yet.

PAUL: Well, you know, the votes aren't all counted yet, and there seems to be a bit of chaos out there, even though it was a small caucus vote. There was a lot of confusion. So, yes, if you go from second to third, there would be disappointment, but also on the positive side, we will get a bloc of votes. We will still get some delegates. And we still will pursue, you know, our plan to go into the caucus states. And we'll have to wait and see how things go.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman, where do you get that first win?

PAUL: Well, you know, it's hard to say exactly when, but we have three or four caucus states that we believe our numbers are doing pretty good, so we have to just wait and see and continue to do exactly what we're doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is also vowing to stay in this race straight through to the convention. He continued his pretty much scorched-earth campaign against Mitt Romney last night. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: The vast majority of Republicans across the country are going to want an alternative to a Massachusetts moderate who has in his career been pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase, and who ranked third from the bottom in creating jobs in the four years he was governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of other Republicans, including Rick Santorum, who's still in the race, think that that kind of continued attack against Mitt Romney is going to hurt the Republican Party in the fall. Are you worried about that?

PAUL: I don't worry about a lot of things. I don't worry about that. I worry about myself. I worry about the message. I worry about the country. I worry about the wars going on. I worry about the economy in the real sense of what it's like to have runaway inflation. Those are things that I worry about, and that's what energizes my supporters, and that's why we get these thousands of people coming out.

So I don't worry about some of these details, because I don't see a lot of difference among our other candidates or between the two parties. It's all big government spending. Nobody wants to cut anything. Nobody wants to stop the wars. So that's what I worry about, getting the country on the right track.

And I get energized because I know there's a large number of people who are looking for another option. And in some ways, I agree with Gingrich about saying that Romney doesn't satisfy a lot of people.

Let me tell you: There's a lot of people not satisfied with any of the candidates out there. And that's why in many ways we're seeing a lower turnout right now. And that should, if party -- building a party is their only goal, they ought to wonder why they haven't offered something else. And that's what I'm trying to change and offer them some real changes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're exactly right, lower turnout in Nevada than four years ago, lower turnout in Florida than four years ago. And you've always said that your campaign is much more of a crusade, much more of a mission. But what exactly do you hope to achieve? What kind of stamp do you expect to put on the Republican platform this year?

PAUL: Well, the first thing you want to achieve is get as many votes as you can and get as many delegates and set your target high. And, of course, you set it for victory, but you have to live within the real world. But in the campaign, that is what the goal is, is to galvanize people, energize people, get them out and vote.

But some people want it either/or. You either believe in something and you're not in the race or you're in the race and you don't believe anything. I don't understand why you can't believe in something and still be in the race. This is the way I ran my congressional campaigns, and I was able to stick to my principles, vote that way, challenge the establishment, get re-elected.

So it's a bigger challenge, of course, to do this in a nation, but we've done this, you know, in the early primaries, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and we've been able to achieve that to a degree. But that is my goal, to make sure that campaigning and political activity represents true beliefs and a true understanding of what we're doing, rather than saying superficially, "How do you win the race? How do you become the nominee?"

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm taking you at that point, and that's why I'm trying to get at the deeper question. You said back in 2008 that you wanted to make a permanent mark, be a permanent presence on the American political landscape. And do you think you've been able to do

PAUL: Yeah, I do, but I don't take all the credit for it, but there's been a big change in this country, because there's a different understanding now. There's a lot more people talking about free-market economics rather than Keynesian welfare-ism and interventionism. So there's a large segment. Intellectually, that is the case.

But among the young people, there is a revolution, an intellectual revolution going on with the young people, and there are people who have sat on the sidelines for years, the independents that I talk to. Obviously, we're not in a large majority right now when the election comes, but all -- anybody who cares about what I'm talking about has to come to the campuses.

Last night, we had -- in a small college in Minnesota, we had 1,300 people coming out, and they're energized. It has not been translated into an absolute political change, but, believe me, the intellectual revolution going on, and that has to come first before you see the political changes, and that's where I'm very optimistic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think you can change Mitt Romney's mind on any of these big issues? And will you endorse him if he gets the nomination?

PAUL: Yeah, I think Mitt could change his mind. He's changed his mind in the past. If he hears from our young people and voters and we continue this, yeah, he's going -- he's going to change his mind, if there's a political benefit to it.

So I think they all will change their mind, because they don't approach this with firm convictions. And if they do have a firm conviction, most of the time it's embedded, you know, to a flawed economic policy and a flawed economic system, flawed monetary policies.

So, yes, they're open to it, but they're only going to be open to it and they're only going to change their mind when the emphasis come from the people and people's attitudes change. Government is a reflection of the people. So both -- I want to change the government, and I want to change it through the electoral process, but I also want to change the hearts and minds of people. That is where it really starts, and that is where we're making the progress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have been consistent in that. Congressman Paul, thanks very much for your time this morning.

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