Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ron Paul Interview from CNN's 'Late Edition' (Video - May 20th)

Here is an interview (video followed by a complete transcript) with Ron Paul that aired Sunday, May 20th on CNN's 'Late Edition':

Interview transcript:

CNN: The 10 Republican Presidential candidates squared off in South Carolina this week, and although he's languishing in the polls, Texas Congressman Ron Paul managed to grab a big share of the attention. He joins us now live from Houston. Congressman Paul, thanks for joining us. Let's show our viewers right away the moment in that debate which captured so much attention and became such a flashpoint. You were speaking, and the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani jumped in, let's listen.

*South Carolina GOP Debate Footage Plays*

CNN: Now, Congressman Paul, the mayor asked you to withdrawal that statement, and you did not. I wanna walk through that. You firmly believe, sir, that because of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, including the first Persian-Gulf war, that we invited, would that be the word that you'd use, that we invited the 9/11 attacks?

Ron Paul: Well, it's not so much that it's a subjective belief; it's just an evaluation of the facts. If you study the people who understand the Middle-East, like Michael Scheuer, and others, and look at the 9/11 Commission Report, that's the evidence they provide, that that was one of the excuses. One of the strongest statements for the position I hold comes from, from no-other than Paul Wolfowitz, who said right after we invaded Iraq, that this was a major event because we could take our troops out of Saudi Arabia, recognizing that that was the motivation for recruiting for Al Qaeda, and the motivation for their hatred towards us. So there's a lot of evidence. I don't think we should deal with the subjective, I think we should deal with the objective position of whether or not those who really understand the Middle East support what I had said.

CNN: Well let me ask you more broadly about your views on foreign policy then. Obviously you believe the United States should have a limited role in the world, especially in terms of projecting military force. So, if Kim-Jong-Il rolled south, into South Korea today, should the Untied States intervene?

Ron Paul: Well, it depends on what the Congress says. We certainly shouldn't do what we did under the Truman administration, go in under a U.N. resolution, you go to the Congress and find out if it's a threat to our national security. I personally would think right now that it isn't a threat to our national security. I wanna make a point though, that if we weren't over there, I think Korea would be unified just like Vietnam is unified. They have railroads now open up between the two (North and South Vietnam), they wanna share information, *indistinct*

CNN: Let me jump in here. I don't wanna solve the problems of the Korean Peninsula today. I do wanna get your views on foreign policy. Let me give you another example: If China took back Taiwan, today, you say go to the Congress, or does the President not have the authority as commander and chief?

Ron Paul: Absolutely he does not have the authority, where does he get it? You can't go to war without Congressional approval, and that's not a threat to our national security, that's internal affairs. Why should we send hundreds of thousands of Americans to die in a civil war> I mean, are we over in Russia right now over Chechnya? I mean, it wouldn't make any sense. Did we go to war over Hong Kong? We should follow the Constitution and the advice of the Founders (Founding Fathers). Don't go looking for dragons to slay. Why should we go and provoke and look for trouble? We should talk to people, negotiate, be diplomatic and trade with people. We do much better trading with Vietnam than we did fighting them. We lost 60,000 men there. It makes so much common sense, and is so appealing to the majority of Americans; let me tell you, I really believe that.

CNN: You've received some criticism. Some say you're the person that doesn't belong at a Republican debate. You're a past Libertarian candidate for President of course. You have views that are out of, what many would think, in the mainstream, at least in today's Republican Party. I want to read some of the criticism that came out after this last debate, and ask you to respond to the politics of it. These are some comments made of your performance.

Here's Roger Simon writing in The Politico: "In terms of the presidency, nobody cares what Ron Paul says, perhaps not even Ron Paul."

Here's Gloria Borger writing in U.S. News & World Report: "Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who gives new meaning to the question asked by Ross Perot's former running mate, Admiral James Stockdale: 'Who am I? Why am I here?'"

And in The Daily News New York editorial: "...Ron Paul, whose performance Tuesday proved him the Sanjaya of the political arena."

What do make of the critics who say "Why is this guy in a Republican debate? If he wants to run, run as the Libertarian."

Ron Paul: (laughs) Well, I would ask you, why'd you pick out three, when I could find you probably a thousand that contradict exactly what you say. I would say that I'm more Republican than they are. The Republican tradition is always to win on the peace position. Democrats have always got us into war. We got of Korea with Eisenhower. We got out of Vietnam eventually with Nixon. We ran on a peace program in the year 2000. No world-policemen. No nation building. A humble foreign policy. Peace is a positive message, not a negative message. Politically you don't win. There is a strong tradition of non-intervention in the Republican Party. That is the American position. That is the Constitutional position. That is the very strong advice from the (founding) fathers. So, when they attack me and say "silence Ron Paul" they're saying "silence the Constitution", "silence the founders of the country", "silence our platform", "close down the big tent and make it very narrow. And as long as you agree with a foreign policy that is failing, then it's ok to be a Republican." I don't buy into that, and neither do the American people.

CNN: Let me jump into what comes next. You're about 1% in the poles and many people disagree with your views. There are many that say at some point you need to have fewer candidates on the stage for these debates to be meaningful. The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party says that he's going to try to get you, and perhaps others, but you specifically, pushed out of future debates. He said of you "I think he would have felt much more comfortable on the stage with the Democrats in what he said last night. And I think that he is a distraction in the Republican primary and he does not represent the base and he does not represent that party." That's Saul Anuzis the chairman of the Republican party in the state of Michigan, who says among other things, that you don't deserve a spot on the stage. Will you continue to be in the Republican debates, and at some point should they maybe winnow down to fewer candidates?

Ron Paul: Well, why do you pick that statement that's been discredited and removed? The chairman of the Michigan (Republican) party now has withdrawn that. He has given up on that. Why don't you let the people decide? Why do you want to eliminate democracy? Why stomp out the grassroots candidate and only reward those with 100 million dollars who get money from the special interests? That's not very democratic. I support the Republican platform better than any other candidate, I am convinced of. Take out the platform, they're for less government, they're for personal liberty. We ran on our program in 2000 for a humble foreign policy. How can anybody say I'm not Republican? I'm the most conservative member of the Congress. I vote for the least amount of spending and the least amount of taxes. Any they say I'm not Republican enough? I mean, why don't you challenge that side, rather than challenging me, and feed into the frenzy that say "get rid of the reporter. Get rid of the person delivering the information" rather than dealing with the information. Non-intervention is a real political victory. We cannot win as Republicans next year if we just continue to dig our heels in, send more men and women over there to die on a policy that has failed. That is the issue. Republicans are scared to death to face up to the truth, and my job is to make them face up to it, and show them that the majority Americans are with me, not with the current foreign policy that we're following.

CNN: Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, Republican candidate for President, low in the polls, but certainly shaking and stirring things up in the Republican race. Congressman thanks for joining us today on Late Edition.

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