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Public Statements

CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript

Interview

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BURNETT: Provide funding and weapons for them so they can defend themselves and promote their agenda. You disagree.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well I have two questions. Number one, I think whenever we get involved with war or providing weapons or bombing countries it needs to go before Congress. You know the Constitution says that that is the prerogative of the legislatures. That's my first objection. My second objection is it's difficult to know who friend and foe are. We've been over a decade or almost you know over a decade now in Afghanistan and we have trouble telling friend from foe. The people we're training, the Afghan soldiers, are turning their weapons on us. So, how are we supposed to know, who in Syria is our friend, who is our foe? What do they stand for?

I also ask the question there's a significant Christian population in Syria. They fled from Iraq. After the war began in Iraq they felt it was safer to be under Assad than to be under the government that we instituted in Iraq. What is that Christian population saying? Many news reports say they're unsure whether they want to support the rebels or Assad and if they can't make up their mind, how can we know for certain that an Islamic government that will come out of the rebels is what we really want?

BURNETT: And so, Senator, why did you choose this way? I mean you were very specific in your criticism. Obviously it's not just Mitt Romney in your party. Lindsey Graham, John McCain have said that they're in favor of arming the rebels in Syria. Why did you choose to come out and say it this way? Had you already tried to talk to Mitt Romney and he wasn't listening?

PAUL: Well, we've had a couple of differences and I support Governor Romney and think he will make a great president, but on foreign policy, I think there's too much agreement between Republicans and Democrats. But I think the people are tired of war. When you talk to Republicans or Democrats now, I think it's almost universal. People want to come home from Afghanistan. You know, there's such great sorrow when you think about our soldiers being killed by the same Afghan policemen and soldiers that we're trying to help. And so I've seen a great movement in recent weeks towards really wanting to come home.

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: And I don't want Governor Romney to think that it is electorally a good thing to appear more bellicose. I think there are many Republicans and many independents who don't necessarily want a president who will begin a war in Syria. And I think it's very important that we not express that as what we're trying to promote.

BURNETT: Have you spoken to him privately about this disagreement?

PAUL: Well you know I spoke with him a couple of months ago and my general impression when I talked with him is that he has a healthy reluctance for war. I don't think he personally maybe comes across as bellicose as some of these speeches are. And I think we have to be careful as Republicans because we need to be cognizant of what's been going on, you know the lives lost and the soldiers wounded over the last 10 years, and realize that not every fight is one we should be involved in.

BURNETT: Are you concerned that coming out with these criticisms, because they are significant. I mean he has made a big deal about arming the rebels. You heard him say it today. He said it yesterday. Also about the defense budget and how he wants to increase it. Are you worried that by coming out, you say you support him, but you could be hurting his chances to win?

PAUL: No, because I think really what we need to be talking about are pretty important issues that transcend partisanship. And we need to talk about what's important for the country. If we want to figure out, for example, the overriding problem to me in Washington for our country is the debt. The only way we're ever going to figure out our debt problem is we're going to have to compromise. Conservatives like myself who believe national defense is very important, will have to say that not every dollar spent on the military is sacred and liberals will have to acknowledge that not every dollar spent on welfare and entitlements is sacred.

They both will have to come together, but we have to reduce both. And it can't be increasing more. We spend more on the military than all of our NATO allies combined. We spend more on our military than almost the rest of the world combined. How much is enough? We've increased our military spending 140 percent in the last 10 years.

BURNETT: Yes.

PAUL: I think enough is enough and we need to begin conserving dollars across the breadth of the entire budget.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you this question about the defense budget because I read it. I knew you were frustrated by what Mitt Romney has proposed there. And viewers, he's proposing an increase in the defense budget. He's been very specific on that. Frankly I think it's fair to say, Senator, much more specific than he's been say on his tax plan. And he's come out and said he's going to increase defense spending from where it is rather significantly. So by the year 2020, the Romney budget, I'll throw it up on the screen, Senator, so our viewers can see it, will be about $909 billion a year. That's a pretty incredible number. All right. Barack Obama's budget according to his plan would be $605 billion. That's pretty amazing.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Both of them are higher --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Yes -- are you more like in the Obama camp though is what I'm getting?

PAUL: What I would say is the same thing I say to liberals. You can't always make education better by throwing more money at it. You can't always make your country stronger or more safe by throwing more money at the military. Let's figure out what we need as a country, to depend our country, to defend our vital interests, but let's not be everywhere all the time. Let's not decide that every war is something that U.S. dollars as well as soldiers have to participate in and so I do object to it. And I think even in an election season we need to object. I'm concerned that you know, we could be at war with Syria even before the election occurs if things escalate across Turkey's border. You know you have the head of NATO now saying that if Turkey's attacked, all of a sudden all of NATO's might will be involved in this war and I think for a border skirmish between Syria and Turkey, where I think Syria's government is very weak and destabilized, I don't want to see world war where all of NATO comes on to the Turkish-Syria border and we're involved in a huge Middle East conflagration. I don't think that's what the American people want and I think we need to be very careful about it.

BURNETT: And Senator, before we go I just want to show you something I saw interesting today on the Web today. You have a Super PAC, Rand PAC and you have been running some ads on behalf of some congressional candidates. You're obviously so far, six figures. You've been spending real money on this in some closely contested races where you could build some friends. Rand PAC 2016 is what your site said. I'm sorry, I was confused actually. I thought you were already running for president. But then I realized though that's when you're technically up for Senate, right, OK. But aren't you laying the groundwork?

PAUL: Yes, we're running ads on foreign aid, letting people know that several different Democrat senators voted for foreign aid to countries that are really disrespecting us and burning our flag and I think the American people aren't for sending foreign aid to countries that really are not acting like allies and don't appear to really be our friends.

BURNETT: And you know what, at least you don't have to change the name of the PAC or anything if you switch what you're running for. Good to see you.

PAUL: You may be right there. All right.

BURNETT: All righty then. Pretty interesting, huh?

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