Show: Anderson Cooper 360
Anderson Cooper: Palin has reportedly decided to skip the upcoming CPAC conference, which is a major event for conservatives, especially those seeking the White House. Cambridge, Governor Bobby Jindal and others have been invited to speak. Palin was asked to be a speaker, but turned it down. At the same time, Palin has agreed to be the paid keynote speaker at the first ever National Tea Party Convention. That’s taking place next month in Nashville. She is apparently putting a political observer, sending a message to her party and her base. But those messages are being interpreted differently, of course, by different groups.
With us now is Ron Paul, Republican congressman and former presidential candidate. Congressman, I appreciate you being with us. Well, what do you make of Sarah Palin’s decision to not go to CPAC, but instead to go to this first ever Tea Party Convention?
Ron Paul: I don’t think I can make a whole lot out of it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’ve been invited to CPAC, I’m going to attend that. And I think that’s a good function for a conservative Republican. But exactly what she is up to, I don’t know. And once you get paid for something, it’s a little bit different. As a member of Congress I don’t get paid, so I make my decisions in a different manner.
Anderson Cooper: What do you make of the Tea Party? I mean, it’s clearly in a very short amount of time grown, gotten a lot of attention. What do you make of it as you observe it?
Ron Paul: I think it’s very interesting and I think it’s very, very important. I feel in many ways that our campaign in the presidential race was part of this because it was more-or-less the first Tea Party. That was the day they raised so much money for me. And it looks like what has happened is a lot of people love the tool; the tool of the Tea Party. I don’t think it’s a monolith in any way. I think there are a lot of different groups coming together trying to get out in front. They know there are a lot of people out there that want change and they want different government, they’re angry at republicans and democrats. And certain individuals are trying to get out in front and lead this charge.
But I don’t think it represents one single group of people. For instance, when I go to the college campuses, I’m looking for groups to come out and I want to talk to them about personal liberty, I want to have them talk about sound monetary policy, and I emphasize foreign policy a whole lot. And some of these tea parties will emphasis and talk about that, but some of them totally ignore it. But I’m more choosey about what I want to do because the things that I’ve been talking about for 30 years, and especially these last 2 years are important to me and I believe sincerely they’re important to the country. So I’m going to keep pursuing those goals, and they don’t fit neatly into every package. I mean everybody that attends a tea party isn’t going to necessarily say, “Oh, I agree with everything that Ron Paul says” and I think that might be true of Palin or anybody else. And I think it’s too early to sort all this out.
Anderson Cooper: I thought one of the things that was so fascinating and important about your race for president was a lot when you talked to your supporters. There were people who were maybe before Democrats or Independents or Republicans, it seemed to be kind of putting aside the party and it was really about ideas and specific issues. And there is this energy and I do get the same sense from talking to people who go to Tea Party rallies, that it’s making people who haven’t even been involved in politics in a very extensive way, but who are mobilizing in a way. Do you think they can become a third party? I mean there are those who are saying they are now Tea Party candidates and they hope that it can become a viable third party. Do you think that’s possible?
Ron Paul: It’s always possible, it’s not likely because of all the laws biased against third parties. But I think you’re right; the people are coming in, joining in and they don’t that necessarily all have the same views. And I think that’s what’s happening, it’s being sorted out. I don’t think you can have one party. But, you know, I’ve tried to promote the ideas of liberty as an Independent and Libertarian. And it’s very, very difficult, because you don’t get on the debates. You don’t get coverage. You don’t get on ballots. And we have a very biased system. We don’t have a real democratic system because many of us have come to the conclusion – and this Tea Party movement would agree with me on this – that they don’t get a fair shake with the two party system and they’re tired of Republicans and they’re tired of Democrats. And therefore the two parties are the same.
I’ve been complaining for all along. They really don’t have a different foreign policy. I mean, how did the foreign policy change after Obama? We were supposed to see some changes. How does it change on personal liberties? No. I mean, we still have big government spying on Americans. Has monetary policy changed? I think we’re making a little inroads there with my efforts on auditing the Fed, but basically the leaders of both parties support the big issues and I think the American people are catching on because they’re facing a bankruptcy. They know the federal government can’t deliver the goods anymore and the people are getting worried no matter which spectrum they’re coming from. They know that the federal government is not able to deliver the goods anymore.
Anderson Cooper: Do you see anyone on the Republican side that excites you for 2012? And if not or even if you do, are you planning to run again?
Ron Paul: Well, I think it’s too early. I haven’t said no, but I don’t have any plans to do it. You know what kind of a job that is for somebody. I’m just going to take a year at a time. I’m up for re-election but I feel like I do the same thing steadily, constantly over a 30 years period, promoting one issue: personal liberty. And to me that’s what America was all about. The Constitution, limited government, property rights. And that’s where our prosperity comes from. So I think it’s such a great philosophy, and there is such a need now to go back to the beliefs that we once had. And that, to me, means you have to change foreign policy. And you have to change the concept of personal liberty and the free market. And that’s what I work on and I do it in the party and out of the party and education. But ultimately I have a lot more respect for education than I do for the politicians. Politicians really don’t change the world. It’s only the ideas that change the world, and that’s what I work in mostly.
Anderson Cooper: I ask a lot of potential candidates that question about whether they’re going to run again. And they always have a cutesy answer. I think you have the most honest answer when you said “I haven’t said no,” you’re thinking about it, but you haven’t made up your mind. I appreciate it. Congressman Paul, I appreciate you being on the program. Thank you.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to be with you.