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Joining us now is the Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul. He's in his home state of Texas.
Congressman, as usual, thanks very much for coming in, but quick question. Why aren't you at this Conservative Political Action Conference that is under way here in Washington? The other three Republican candidates will be addressing the group tomorrow.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we made the decision a couple months ago not to do it. It was a matter of resources.
You know, we have a lot of young people that are involved in our campaign. And we ask a lot of them, and they're doing a lot of hard work, and they do the phone calling and the door knocking, and all these things that they do and they're scattered by. So we just decided that we wouldn't put the effort. People don't come there just automatically. And our supporters, we have asked them to do other jobs, so we had decided that a couple months ago not to come to CPAC.
BLITZER: How do you explain the recent success of Rick Santorum, certainly at the expense of Mitt Romney?
PAUL: I think it's the frustration with the Republican base. And the turnouts keep going down. I think there's a few Republicans that might not even vote Republican this year, and we certainly have a lot of those that come to our rallies from the Democratic Party. They won't vote Democrat and they join our rallies.
But I think it's the lack of enthusiasm for any of the other three. Mitt has been around for a bit, and they know what he stands for. But there's a bit of irony, though, for Santorum to be the one that's criticizing Mitt Romney for being liberal, because when we do the analysis and look at his voting record, he's not a moderate.
He has voted for a lot of big government things. So from my viewpoint, it's a bit ironic that this sharp criticism and these arguments and debates going back and forth -- I don't know -- maybe the people are getting tired of it, and maybe they're getting tired of the Republicans bickering among themselves when they realize that their positions are essentially the same.
And, of course, we're not on the top. We see ourselves growing in enthusiasm and our numbers keep growing, so hopefully our message will resonate and more will join us. I think that will be the case.
BLITZER: Because, I way I see it, from your perspective, and correct me if you think I'm wrong, you have your positions. They're very well known to all of your supporters and a lot of other folks, but you look at the other three Republican candidates still left in this race, you don't see a whole lot of difference among these other three, do you?
PAUL: No, I don't.
And if you're talking just about political strategy and political consequences, that, of course, falls to a benefit to us, because in many ways I'm running against the status quo, individuals that support the positions that existed. They don't question anything in foreign policy or anything in monetary policy.
And they have been big spenders. I mean, none of them were -- when they had a chance to really show fiscal conservatism, they didn't do it. They talked sort of that way now, but they don't offer any cuts, so there is a difference. But I think that is what's raising the frustration level with many Republicans, and I have to just work hard to present my case for limited government and a different monetary system and looking at entitlements and actual cuts.
And you know that I have proposed and am very sincere about it -- and people know that -- that I would cut a trillion dollars out of the budget. I think government is too big. And if you want it smaller, you have to cut the spending.
BLITZER: You speak about your monetary policy. I know you want to go back to the gold standard. So walk us through how that would work out, how that would play out. Right now, the international economy is basically based on the U.S. dollar.
If you went to the gold standard, how do you change that? Walk us through the process.
PAUL: Well, not easily.
You couldn't do it with waving a wand. You couldn't do it in a day. You can't get rid of the Fed in a day, but you have to have gradualism and work it out. When we went back on the gold standard after the Civil War, it was like 17 years later and they had a three- year transition period.
So it has to be worked out. And all I want to do is legalize competition with this paper money system. The world is going to come crashing down financially when this continues, especially what is happening in Europe. But I just want people to opt out of it and be able to preserve their wealth by using another currency.
And the system, even by those who are very much in charge on international finance, knows this is coming, because they're talking about a new currency, but they're talking about another paper currency run by the United Nations. And that, of course, would be an anathema to those of us who believe that we have a national sovereignty and right to protect our own currency.
BLITZER: Because you say the system is about to come crashing down. If you take a look at the last three years, since President Obama took office, if you look at the Dow Jones, the Wall Street numbers, they have really gone up a lot, from under 7000, 6500, 6800, to over 12000, approaching 13000.
Why are these numbers so good right now?
PAUL: Well, because the Fed is creating so much money. The inflation is an increase in supply of money. We never know where exactly it will go, but they will channel it.
So they channeled it to the financial markets, and the banks got the money for free, where the people who produce jobs, they don't even get the loans. It's much safer for the banks to borrow at zero percent and loan it back to the government at 3 percent. And they get out of trouble.
And the stocks like that, but there's no real growth, irregardless of what these employment statistics shows. In the past 10 years, there's really been no growth. We have had a 30 million increase in population, but no significant increase in productive jobs. This country is in much worse shape.
And when you count all the unemployment, even by government statistics, the unemployment rate is 11 percent. And that's why the people feel a lot worse than the government tells us we're supposed to feel. And I think the American people know that. And that's why there's still a lot of concern about the economy.
BLITZER: Where do you stand, Congressman, on the debate that's under way, the fight that's under way right now between the White House and the Catholic Church on contraception as far as religious- based hospitals, charities, universities, that would be required to provide contraception.
You're a doctor, among other things. Where do you stand on this fight that's going on, not only as a physician, but a libertarian?
PAUL: Well, the position that -- I just don't like mandates and telling people what to do. We get into trouble, though, when you use taxpayer funding to do things you shouldn't be doing.
So, when the taxpayers get involved, then you say, how can you be fair to everybody? Well, you can't be. So the government shouldn't be funding it. But, certainly, if the funding is going to occur, you don't tell churches what they should do. So I don't like the mandates at all. And I think Obama has dug a hole for himself here, because he's trampling on religious conviction.
But the political and economic and constitutional approach of government being involved in doing things like this is really where it starts, because then you say, when you have a government program, how can you satisfy everybody's wants and wills and what they want to do and protect everybody?
It's absolutely impossible. This is why, if it's voluntary, if you have voluntary churches or whatever, you can do what you want, and the government doesn't have a say, just to protect voluntary choices, rather than the government dictating to people on what they should or shouldn't do about birth control.
BLITZER: I want to be precise on this and then I'll let you go. Let's say you're a woman who works at Georgetown University Hospital, which is a Catholic-based university hospital. You're not necessarily Catholic, you want to -- or even if you are Catholic, you want to have access, your health insurance to get birth control pills. Should you be -- should your health insurance company be required to provide you that kind of access?
PAUL: No. Then it's not insurance. I mean, once there's a government involvement insurance in there and it dictates, but if insurance were voluntary issue for individuals rather than the way we deliver it with tax benefits to large corporations, and your medical benefits go with the corporation become very complex. But in a true free market, you pick the company that would provide you with the services that you want. It would be like picking out which life insurance policy you want, or picking out what kind of house policy you want, or what kind of car policy you said. It would be individualized.
But once again, the government has been involved in this health care business for so long and -- but when they put a mandate on and say, you must do this or must do that, it's no longer insurance. They're not measuring their risk at all. The customer is not making a choice and the businessman is not making a choice.
So, it's the fault of compulsion by government-run programs that will inevitably lead to these arguments and fights.
BLITZER: Are you going to win the Maine caucuses Saturday?
PAUL: I think we have a chance to do that. We'll be up there and stand up (ph) to the last minute. But every time I've been up there, the support has been wonderful. And I'm so pleased that they're very receptive to the ideas of liberty, and I'm cautiously optimistic about Saturday.
BLITZER: We'll be covering it with a special SITUATION ROOM, 6:00 p.m. Eastern starting our coverage Saturday night.
Congressman Paul, as usual, thanks very much for coming in.
PAUL: Thank you.
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