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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript

Interview

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BURNETT: Senator, good to see you.

And I want to talk about FEMA. They were on earlier. You know, I think by all accounts, what we've heard -- I mean, some people are frustrated, but they're trying really hard to do a good job. At the beginning of the hurricane season this year, you tried to hold up a five-year extension of FEMA's national flood insurance program. It was tied to an amendment about personhood, something totally different about life beginning at conception.

Why did you do it?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, what I have always maintained on our side is that FEMA should exist on money that comes in as revenue, but not on borrowed money. So really the fight wasn't about we should borrow money for FEMA or whether it should come from existing funds. To me, it's a matter of priorities, we send billions of dollars overseas to aid other countries. I'm for keeping that money home and paying for FEMA with that money rather than borrowing money.

BURNETT: So, you don't have a problem with FEMA. I guess, what I'm saying, you know, we see these people there in such desperate straits -- a lot of them are --

PAUL: I think --

BURNETT: Yes?

BURNETT: I think FEMA tries hard. I think they're like many government agencies. Sometimes, they're successful and sometimes, they're not. You know, I'm hoping maybe the ice they have in the warehouse that's been there since Katrina that they could never use, maybe they could use that this time around or maybe some of the housing they had in Arkansas that spent years in Arkansas and never got Katrina.

So government is inefficient at this, but I'm not saying government doesn't have a role. I personally have seen up close the Salvation Army, Red Cross and others and immediate responders, local firefighters, local policemen being much more effective. Ultimately, the federal government comes in, but really, your best chance of being saved -- your life being saved is by your local police or fire force.

BURNETT: So, you think if that was who was in charge, you'd have more temporary housing and in the right places? I mean, I know you were just with the remark you made about the temporaBURNETT:BURNETT:ry housing in Arkansas.

PAUL: I'm not really talking so much -- I think there are different responses. You know, there's an immediate response, and those are the first providers that are there -- the physicians, nurses, firefighters and policemen. And I think that's what happened immediately.

Later on, there is talk and really within a day or two, talk of temporary housing and things, but a lot of that is also done locally. When we had tornadoes that devastated two cities in our community here in Kentucky, the churches stepped up and fed the first responders, 2,000 responders a day were being fed by churches and the people were being put up in houses.

So I don't entirely think this is a government response. I think it's important to really laud the private folks as well as churches who step up and help us well.

BURNETT: Let me ask you a question about what happened today. There have been some surprising endorsements on both sides. But today, I think one that surprised some people, a man who's been a Democrat, a Republican and now, an independent.

I'm referring to Mayor Bloomberg, who's dealing with a storm crisis right now, came out and endorsed President Obama and he did so, he said, because of climate change. That was the main reason and here's what he said about Mitt Romney.

All right. Sorry, we don't have that. What he said, "If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were voting for president, I may well have voted for him."

What's your response to that? I mean, it's got to be a sort of a blow to have Mayor Bloomberg, a big businessman, run government as being a businessman to say that.

PAUL: Yes, I don't think many of us thought that nanny Bloomberg was going to be endorsing a Republican anytime soon. We can't even get a decent sized Coke to drink in New York City anymore. So, I don't think his proclivities or his sort of sense of philosophy really is Republican much at all.

BURNETT: One final question I want to squeeze this in as I told our viewers I would. Can Mitt Romney win this without winning Ohio?

PAUL: I think he's going to win Ohio and I don't know if I can tell you the absolute answer about the electoral math. I have been saying we need to be more competitive in the West Coast and New England because we're not competitive there. It makes the map much more difficult for us.

I think we're going to win Ohio, been there three times and going back on Sunday. What I sense is a lot of momentum left over from 2010.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator Rand Paul. It's good to see you. We appreciate your time.

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