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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript


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CROWLEY: Ron Paul hit Newt Gingrich pretty hard this week and he's got the money to keep at it, $3.6 million in cash. Even better, he's got the army, Time magazine reports Paul insiders claim to have hard pledges from 20,000 caucus goers. A record 120,000 Iowans showed up in the 2008 Republican caucuses.

And one more number: 30.

Congressman Paul joins me now from his home state of Texas. Congressman, you were greeted this morning by a new "Des Moines Register" poll that I want to share with our audience. It is showing Newt Gingrich on top at 25 percent, and then coming in second, Ron Paul at 18 percent beating out Mitt Romney at 16 percent and everyone else in the single digits.

How do you take these numbers and roll it into a victory in January? Have you got the manpower to do it?

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Of course it is very encouraging because we're getting pretty close to it being within the margin of error. So I think we continue to do what we're doing. We've had the flavors of the month up and down so far in this campaign. I'd like to think of myself as the flavor of the decade. We keep plodding along on a couple of issues that are really striking a chord with the people and that is, of course, the wars, the endless wars going on, as well as the financial condition of the country because I've been talking about the housing bubble and the financial situation that we have and the crisis going on, and even the recent promises that we, the United States, with our dollar, will bail out Europe.

So these issues are been, you know, striking a chord with the people and I think this is why we are doing so well in the polls not only in Iowa but we have some similar results up in New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: You are in fact doing well in New Hampshire. But I wanted to ask you, I want to show another poll that we have done. This is a CNN/ORC poll. And the question is, which Republican candidate has the best chance to beat President Obama: Mitt Romney 40 percent, Newt Gingrich, 21 percent, Herman Cain was still in it when this poll came out 16 percent. You are down at 4 percent. And this is a poll among Republicans.

So the very -- there are Republicans in Iowa putting you in second place and yet only 4 percent of Republicans see you as the one best able to beat President Obama. Can you explain that to me?

PAUL: Well, if you're starting to talk about the general election, that poll doesn't mean very much because you take -- even in the primary up in New Hampshire, you know, the largest number of registered voters in New Hampshire are independent.

But go out and do a poll just on independents and put my name up against Obama. All of a sudden the disenfranchised and the people from the left who are upset with the constant wars and the attack on our civil liberties, they're really down on the president. And they're down on the economy. So I would bet you we get a completely different result.

And you don't win just with the hardcore Republican base. You have to have a candidate that's going to appeal across the political spectrum. And I think with my views they're quite different than the hard-edged views that so many on the Republican side frequently are showing.

CROWLEY: Well, in fact, you're right, it does take more than just Republicans, or for Democrats just Democrats, to win a general election. But, would you agree with the premise that when it -- when it comes down to that night in Iowa, and when it comes down to that primary night in New Hampshire, what Republicans most want -- and they are the ones who are going to decide the nominee -- what they most want is someone who can beat President Obama and they rate so many people above you. And that's why I think it is important to talk about electability, because it is a factor in how people view you.

PAUL: Yeah.

You know, I would say that if the people in Iowa wouldn't consider me a good option to beat Obama I wouldn't be a close second in there. So it is already reflecting a favorable rating for that. But I think you point out -- maybe you're giving me subtly some good advice, you better keep working. And that is what we have to convince the primary voters that we can do a good job in the general and that, of course, is part of the campaign. And I think that's where we're making progress.

CROWLEY: Trust me congressman, you don't want to take election advice from me no matter what.

Let me ask you about the departure of Herman Cain. What is it inside -- this was a man with huge appeal to the Tea Party. And who does leave some voters in Iowa and elsewhere looking for another candidate. What is it in Ron Paul's campaign that might attract a Herman Cain -- a former Herman Cain supporter.

PAUL: Well, I think you mentioned the right word -- the Tea Party people, because actually the Tea Party was started during the last campaign four years ago when our campaign. It's morphed into different things and it's broad-based and it is not monolithic. But there are a lot of people who call themselves Tea Party people that did like the independent mindedness of Herman Cain. So I think that we'll probably do better, even though some people are saying, oh, no, they're all going to go to so-and-so.

But, no, I think that -- and we're paying a lot of attention to that, because obviously they're going to go somewhere in the next week or so. That's going to happen.

So I'm optimistic that we'll pick up some votes from there.

CROWLEY: I don't know if you know it, but are you in a bit of a tiff with Donald Trump at this point who was told that you were not going to participate in a debate that he apparently is going to host. He said nobody takes him seriously. He's a clown, et cetera, et cetera.

I know you didn't -- you did not want to participate in the debate because you feel similarly about Donald Trump. Do you think the Republican Party hurts itself by having a high-profile debate with Donald Trump as the moderator?

PAUL: Well, yeah. And of course, some of that debate was going on from what the staffers that would like to take him on but obviously he was representing me.

But, yes. I think they hurt themselves. But in the statement that I approved, it said that one of the concerns that I had was really how he was treating the Republican Party of Iowa. And he didn't treat them well because he had agreed to come to their biggest fund-raiser of the year because he was talking about running. When he changed his mind about not running he canceled on them. They had to cancel the event. And that was a bit of an insult to them.

So I've gotten a lot of good favorable responses from the people of Iowa, even the people in the party that appreciated the fact that I mentioned that because they were very unhappy with the way he treated them by just stiffing them and walking away from it and they were left holding the bag.

CROWLEY: What do you make of his popularity? I mean he said my poll numbers when I was in are higher than Ron Paul's. Why do you think people like him -- you know Newt Gingrich is going to this debate, others have said they're going to the debate, but you don't want to.

PAUL: Yeah, I don't quite understand it. I don't understand the marching to his office. I mean I didn't know that he had an ability to lay on hands, you know, and anoint people. But I have to just do my thing. I don't think -- obviously -- you know, early on, even at CPAC, he volunteered the first attack on me.

But evidently, you know, he probably doesn't like my position on the federal reserve. You know, easy credit for developers and investors, you know they like easy credit and they like the federal reserve and they like that for bailing out. So I don't know, maybe deep down philosophic. And of course his position on China was quite different. So I think it is philosophic and probably his personality that doesn't like to be challenged.

CROWLEY: Let me -- this week the president has gotten a lot of good news that might be able to sort of pump up his campaign, consumer confidence is up, new home sales are up, construction spending is up, and unemployment is down. Do you think this helps his campaign? And it fits in to what certainly the Obama re-elect people have told us, which is they just have to show people that the trajectory of the economy is going in the right direction, and certainly this week would say that it is.

PAUL: Well, I think so. I think the headlines helped him. Sometimes I think we overdo it. Presidents get a lot of credit and a lot of blame, and sometimes they deserve neither. But I think the headlines helps him. But when you go out and talk to the people, all of a sudden the people I talk to aren't that optimistic.

And when you look at those unemployment figures. Actually unemployment is still a serious problem.

PAUL: There's more people dropped out of the workforce than the people who got jobs.

And if you use the old-fashioned way of measuring unemployment there, the statistics are pretty bad. The tendency of the government when it talks about unemployment or the CPI -- the inflation rate -- they fudge the figures if they're not very favorable. And the unemployment, if you measure them the way we used to measure them, actually -- and I believe these figures -- that the free market economists who measure say we have 22 percent unemployment, when you add up everybody who doesn't look for work, who are just partially employed or the people looking for jobs.

So it is bad. The people know it. The sentiment is bad, and they also understand that their cost of living is going up and their standard of living is going down, and there's very little confidence out there. But, superficially and for a short time, maybe these headlines will get a little bump. But believe me, a bump from the very bottom on housing really doesn't re-assure that many people.

CROWLEY: Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, thank you for joining us today.

And if you want more of Ron Paul, we want you to check out, just in time for Christmas, the "Ron Paul Family Cookbook."

Coming up, Michele Bachmann and why she thinks she's the only real conservative in the race.


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