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FOX "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" Transcript: Response to State of the Union

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WALLACE: This week, he took on Democrats and Republicans in his Tea Party response to the president's State of the Union address.

Here with his critique of both parties is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

And, Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Good morning.

WALLACE: We'll get to the president in a moment, but let's start with the Republicans. You say the sequester is fine, even the $40- plus billion that the Pentagon would take in military spending cuts. You just heard Senator Graham say, no, it isn't fine, that that would further jeopardize our national security.

PAUL: Well, ideally, we would have done the right thing, and that's pass appropriations bills and reduce spending where we think is fit.

The sequester is sort of a hammer. It was requested by the president. It was his idea, signed into law by him. So I think it is disingenuous for him to go back on it.

But, to put it in perspective, it's $1 trillion that over the next 10 years, spending will go up $9 trillion. So, even with the sequester, spending will still rise overall. So, the sequester really is a reduction in the rate of growth of spending, it's not a real cut in spending.

WALLACE: Senator Graham also says you are wrong, that the last thing we need -- talking about drone strikes -- that the last thing we need is a judge, second-guessing the commander-in-chief.

PAUL: I think we may need to make the question a little more precise. What I'm asking is about drone strikes on Americans, on American soil. The president will not answer that he cannot do this. In fact, he seems to be asserting that he can do this.

The law indicates that he can't. The CIA is not supposed to assassinate people on American soil. And, the Department of Defense is not allowed to act on American soil because of the Posse Comitatus Act.

So, the American law says they can't do this, but the president, all he will say is he doesn't intend to do this. That's sort of like him saying, oh, I don't intend to override the Second Amendment but I might. That is --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Let me interrupt for a second, because I thought that you were objecting to drone strikes on American citizens on foreign soil as well. Is that not true?

PAUL: I'm primarily asking, and the primary question is: Americans on American soil, can the president kill them with a drone strike from his program? It's blatantly illegal and I would think most Americans would want to be -- have their day in court.

And so, I disagree with Senator Graham. If you live in America, you ought to get your day in court before hellfire missile comes down on your house.

WALLACE: But I'm confused, sir, why would we need a drone strike? I mean, the reason for that is because we don't have people on the ground. If we knew where an al Qaeda operative was --

PAUL: You would think.

WALLACE: -- American or foreign, on U.S. soil, wouldn't we just go catch him?

PAUL: You would think.

But here's Brennan's response. He says the authorization to use force in 2001 in Afghanistan has no geographical limits. So, when he says that, our first question is -- gosh, he is implying he could do it in America. So, we sent him a written question.

Senator Wyden asked him a verbal question: can you kill an American on American soil? And he won't answer.

The president has now answered and says: I don't intend to do so. Well, that's pretty weak. I want him to say, absolutely, he will not kill Americans on American soil because we do strikes overseas that are sometimes not even targeted to an individual. We see a train -- a caravan coming out of a place we think people don't like America and we strike a train of vehicles without even knowing who they are.

But with Americans overseas, I also do have some objection in the sense that I would try them for treason. Awlaki was known and it was published that he was on a target list for months and months. He could have been tried in a federal court for treason for treason. He denounced America and, in all likelihood, he would have been swiftly convicted.

His son, though, was never tried. We killed his 16-year-old son and I don't think that that was appropriate.

PAUL: His son was never even accused of terrorism. The government won't even admit it was a mistake or an error, whatever it was. And I think that is wrong, you should get protection for being an American citizen.

WALLACE: Let me --

PAUL: Where I agree with Senator Graham, if you have a grenade launcher on your shoulder, by all means, and you're firing at Americans, you don't need due process. But if you are sitting in a cafe in Paris or Yemen, there should be a process where a judge decides your guilt, or a jury.

WALLACE: There is a growing battle inside the GOP. As you know, Karl Rove launched something called the Conservative Victory Project to get involved in primaries to make sure the party doesn't in the primary nominate somebody who can't win a general election.

Do you think that's a mistake?

PAUL: Well, you know, elections are a free marketplace and everybody has a right to participate in primary elections. What I would say is primary elections need not be selected by the party. In my case, and also in Senator Rubio's case, the party chose someone else. In Senator Rubio's case, they chose someone who is now a Democrat. So, it wasn't really a very good choice.

So, I would say is, let's have healthy primaries, and if people want to contribute on all sides, let people make voluntary contributions and we'll see which way it goes. But I think competitive primaries, you end up getting a good candidate, typically.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to the president's agenda. What's wrong with the idea the president laid out in the State of the Union that, yes, at this time particularly when we have a weak recovery, we need to spend more money? He calls it investment on education, on infrastructure, on research, especially when Mr. Obama says, if you make cuts in other places we won't add -- his words -- a dime to the deficit.

PAUL: Yes, he said that about 20 times in the last four years. Meanwhile, he added $6 trillion to the debt. I think it's really disingenuous.

He said in his speech he reduced the debt by $2 trillion. Well, he added $6 trillion and that means because he didn't add $8 trillion, he's reduced it by $2 trillion? That's absurd.

He listed about 50 new programs and says they're not going to cost you anything. We're going to squeeze the money out of the rich.

The problem is, is whenever he tries to squeeze more money out of the economy, he is slowing it down. We slowed down in the fourth quarter, and it's not because government spending is going down. Government spending is still going at pace. We still have plenty of government spending. In fact, we spent more the fourth quarter last year than the third quarter and we spent more than the previous year. We've never had a real cut in spending in recent history.

So I think he's just -- he's flat-out wrong.

WALLACE: But, as a matter -- whether it's right or wrong -- and, you know, it doesn't have anything to do with politics. As a matter of practical politics, isn't the president putting the Republican Party in the same spot he successfully put you in during the campaign, he's defending the middle class and you guys are protecting tax breaks for the wealthy?

PAUL: Right, and that's empty and false rhetoric. So, it's our job to explain to the American people that big government doesn't help the poor. Big government creates massive debt which causes your prices to rise. Your gas price is going up.

If you make $20,000 a year, and have two kids, you are poor and when your gas prices go from $3.20 to $3.80, that's President Obama doing that with big government and his debt.

If you are a senior citizen trying to save money, when your savings is sapped and you get no cost of living increase, that's President Obama doing that to your prices because his massive debt causes prices to rise.

WALLACE: Let's turn to immigration, because you talked about that in your official response on Tuesday.

Here's what you said: "We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says if you want to work, if you want to be an American, we welcome you."

Question, do you support the bipartisan "gang of eight" in the Senate, which has put together at this point kind of a blue print, an outline, for immigration reform, that says that they would allow people, the 11 million illegals to stay here. They would give them some legal status, not a path to citizenship but some legal status right away, and, once you get enforcement of the borders, then a path to citizenship?

PAUL: I do support immigration reform. I do support the concept of telling the 11 million people here that if you want to work, and you don't want to be on welfare, we're willing to find a place for you in America.

As far as the bipartisan proposal, I'll support it on one condition, and that's that we have a report that says the border is being secured but that report comes back and is voted on in Congress. And this is my idea I have been promoting and it will be an amendment or substitute for their bill, is that each year, over a five or six- year period, we have to have a report by an investigator general from the GAO that comes back and says, the border is secure.

But conservatives like myself have been for, step-wise, immigration reform if the border is secure. But I won't do it on a promise from President Obama. I think that's an empty promise and I frankly think that we need to trust but verify. And so, my amendment will have a report each year over five years that Congress actually has to vote on to say the border is secure.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that because there is a White House draft of a comprehensive immigration plan that started circulating this weekend, which would allow the 11 million a path to citizenship without any linkage to border enforcement.

PAUL: This is the president torpedoing his own plan and shows me that he's really not serious. There are many people who think Democrats bring up these ideas as wedge issues. They don't really ever want to pass them because then they'd no longer have the Republicans to blame. So, really, they set themselves up for failure by putting something up as untenable.

I have come a long way forward on this issue. I am a very conservative senator. I'm someone who is -- someone who strongly believes in border security first, and I'm willing to come towards them and figure out a compromise on this.

But when they come out and adamantly say my way or the highway and, if Congress doesn't ask, I'll put it on the desk and say, pass it now -- that's no way to get it done. And then he'll blame it on us and it seems to me, to show that really the president doesn't want immigration reform.

WALLACE: Finally, let's talk about 2016. How serious are you about running -- you know what I'm going to ask -- running for president? And would it be to make a point as your father did, in his presidential runs, or would it be to win?

PAUL: I would absolutely not run unless it were to win. You know, points have been made and we'll continue to make points, but I think the country really is ready for the narrative coming, libertarian Republican narrative, also because we have been losing as a national party. We are doing fine in congressional seats but we're becoming less and less of a national party because we don't win on the West Coast, we don't win in New England. We really struggle around the Great Lakes.

I think people want a party that's a little bit less aggressive on foreign policy, still believes in a strong national defense but less aggressive. They want -- the young people want politicians who don't want them in jail for 20 years for a nonviolent drug position charge. So, they want a little bit different phase. I think people want a little different phase on immigration frankly. They don't want someone somebody who wants to round people up, put in camps and send them back to Mexico.

WALLACE: Senator Paul --

PAUL: They don't give them welfare, either. I don't.

Excuse me?

WALLACE: Senator Paul, we got 30 seconds left. You sound like you are running.

PAUL: We won't make a decision until 2014 but I think I do want the party to become a national party again and not lose sight of how we grow as a party. So I will continue in that vein for a couple of years and then we'll decide.

WALLACE: Senator Paul, thank you. Thanks for coming in. Always good to talk with you.

PAUL: Thank you.


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