Thursday, May 17, 2007

May 15th South Carolina GOP Debate Transcript

Below are the questions and answers posed to Ron Paul during the Presidential debate May 15th in South Carolina, follwed by video. If you'd like to check out the entire transcript, click here.

Question #1: MR. WALLACE: Congressman Paul, you're one of six House Republicans who back in 2002 voted against authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq.

REP. PAUL: Right.

MR. WALLACE: Now you say we should pull our troops out. A recent poll found that 77 percent of Republicans disapprove of the idea of setting a timetable for withdrawal. Are you running for the nomination of the wrong party? (Scattered laughter.)

REP. PAUL: But you have to realize that the base of the Republican Party shrunk last year because of the war issue. So that percentage represents less people. If you look at 65 to 70 percent of the American people, they want us out of there. They want the war over.

In 19- -- 2002, I offerer an amendment to International Relations to declare war, up or down, and it was -- nobody voted for the war. And my argument there was, if we want to go to war, and if we should go to war, the Congress should declare it. We don't go to war like we did in Vietnam and Korea, because the wars never end. And I argued the case and made the point that it would be a quagmire if we go in.

Ronald Reagan in 1983 sent Marines into Lebanon, and he said he would never turn tail and run. A few months later, the Marines were killed, 241 were killed, and the Marines were taken out. And Reagan addressed this subject in his memoirs. And he says, "I said I would never turn tail and run." He says, "But I never realized the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics," and he changed his policy there.

We need the courage of a Ronald Reagan.

Question #2: MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, can you do better than that, sir?

REP. PAUL: I'd start with the departments -- the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security. We've started with -- we've just -- the Republicans put in the Department of Homeland -- it's a monstrous type of bureaucracy. It was supposed to be streamlining our security and it's unmanageable. I mean, just think of the efficiency of FEMA in its efforts to take care of the floods and the hurricanes.

So yes, there's a lot of things that we can cut, but we can't cut anything until we change our philosophy about what government should do. If you think that we can continue to police the world and spend hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars running a welfare state, an entitlement system that has accumulated $60 trillion worth of obligations, and think that we can run the economy this way; we spend so much money now that we have to borrow nearly $3 billion a day from foreigners to take care of our consumption, and we can't afford that.

We can't afford it in the government, we can't afford it as a nation.

So tax reform should come, but spending cuts have to come by changing our attitude what government ought to be doing for us.

MR. GOLER: You would eliminate the Department of Homeland Security in the midst of a war, sir?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think we should not go to more bureaucracy. It didn't work. We were spending $40 billion on security prior to 9/11, and they had all the information they needed there to deal with the threat, and it was inefficiency. So what do we do? We add a gigantic bureaucracy, which they're still working on trying to put it together, and a tremendous amount of increase in funds.

So I don't think that the Republican position ought to be more bureaucracy. I mean, why did we double the size of the Department of Education?

(Bell rings.)

Question #3: MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as -- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy -- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.

Just think of the tremendous improvement -- relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there's a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution.

And my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don't end.

MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?

REP. PAUL: What changed?

MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.

REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?

REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)

And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Congressman?

REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?

MR. GIULIANI: Can I have 30 seconds, please?

MR. : No, no, no, wait a second. Let's -- we'll all get 30 seconds.

(Cross talk.)

MR. GIULIANI: They are coming --

Question #4: MR. HUME: Congressman Paul, one last question for you on this. The president believed after 9/11 that the tax cuts that he had put in place were helpful in softening the economic downturn that occurred, and allowing the United States economy to rise out of it. Would you propose -- what economic policies would you propose under this scenario to avert or soften a recession?

REP. PAUL: Well, the lower the taxes the better, and I think cutting taxes would be beneficial. But we should find places where we could cut spending as well, because eventually a deficit can be very, very harmful to us. But you know, I think it's interesting talking about torture here in that it's become enhanced interrogation technique. It sounds like Newspeak.

Nobody's for the torture, and I think that's important. But as far as taking care of a problem like this, the president has the authority to do that. If we're under imminent attack, the president can take that upon himself to do it.

But just think. We gave the president authority to go into Afghanistan, and here we have Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. They have nuclear weapons, and we're giving them money.

And we forgot about him, and now we're over in -- in Iraq in a war that's bogging us down, and we have forgotten against -- about dealing with the people that attacked us. (Bell rings.) And here you have a hypothetical attack that you're dealing with; we ought to be dealing with the one we have right now on our hands.

Watch the video here:

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