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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript


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So, once and for all, if you do not succeed in this Republican contest, will you continue to be a Republican?

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no plans in doing that. Tomorrow is a big day. We're going to see what happens, but I have no intention of doing that, no plans, and no desire, and flat out, I don't want to.

BASH: OK. Because before you have been a little bit circumspect.

You've run as a libertarian before.

PAUL: Right. And I've never spoken in absolutes. I mean, I have no plans to do it and no intention of doing it. And I would not see myself doing that.

BASH: Now, this is the first time in this last stretch that you've been out with your dad. What do you expect to say to the voters and what do you hope that your message will be in these closing hours.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, what's amazing to me is the excitement. The room is overflowing with people here, and I think we can win. I think there is a real chance we can win.

I think one of the really cool things is, is that my dad's bringing all these Independents along, too. Not only Republicans, but Independents. That's how you win elections. You can't win with just Republicans. If you look at all the polls, CNN polls, all the polls, you'll find that Ron Paul does better with Independents than any other Republican candidate.

BASH: Now, you told CNN yesterday that you were going to come in second. The recent polls show that you're actually declining right now as we get closer to the caucuses. And one of the reasons is because Rick Santorum is surging.

You've been hitting Newt Gingrich in your ads. You've been hitting Mitt Romney in your ads. But not Rick Santorum. Was he a surprise?

RON PAUL: You know, I'm always amazed at how you pick and cite certain things, because I read just a few minutes ago -- it was the most recent one -- they said that we were in first place. I see the citing of polls sometimes as orchestrated for a purpose.

It's a tight race. It's in three places. Anybody could win out of those three, but we are excited about the enthusiasm.

BASH: Rick Santorum is a former senator. You know what it's like to serve in the Senate, you know what it's like to serve in the Congress. Why wouldn't he be a good Republican nominee?

RON PAUL: Because he's very liberal. And --

BASH: Rick Santorum's liberal?

RON PAUL: Have you looked at his record? Go with his record.

BASH: What makes him liberal?

RON PAUL: He spends too much money. I mean, he wasn't leading the charge to slash the budget and vote against big government.

BASH: What do you think, Rand?

RAND PAUL: He voted to double the size of the Department of Education. He voted to expand Medicare and add free drugs for senior citizens. And he's voted for foreign aid. Those are not conservative principles. Seventy-seven percent of the American people are opposed to foreign aid, and Rick Santorum's voted for it every time it's come down.

BASH: I just have one last question on substance.

I was talking to a very well-plugged-in Republican here in Iowa who told me that one of the reasons why you're losing support is because of your -- with Republicans is because of your foreign policy. Specifically on Iran. Specifically on Iran.

So, my question for you is, what would a President Paul do if Iran were to get a nuclear weapon?

RON PAUL: Well, that's long answer. We're running out of time. Just come to the meeting we're going to have. If I mention anything about the troops and coming home and stopping the wars, you'll get the loudest applause, and that's why my crowds are growing, because I have a different foreign policy.

I have the old right foreign policy. I have the foreign policy of George W. Bush of 2000 when he says no nation-building, no policing the world, no entanglements, none of these wars. That's what he ran on.

That's why the Republican Party does support this. They have in the past.

But to say that Republicans are going to shy away from this, 77 percent of the American people are agreeing with me about getting out of Afghanistan. That's what you ought to be talking about.


One last thing before you go, because people might not realize this. This is actually on every single seat at a Ron Paul rally. It is the Ron Paul cookbook which your wife, your mother, wrote.

RAND PAUL: It's a secret weapon.

BASH: Secret weapon? What, the Oreo Cake is a secret weapon?

RON PAUL: There you go.

BASH: Got to have a little fun.

RON PAUL: All right. Very good.

BASH: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.


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