Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Interviewer: Doctors Paul, thanks for joining us here before your Rally for the Republicans, and because you’re the candidate here in Kentucky, with all due respect to Ron Paul, we’ll start with you, Rand.
First of all, it’s a Rally for the Republicans and you made very clear from the beginning that you are a Republican. Early in the campaign though, wasn’t there some question about that though, it terms of maybe the GOP would best fit the campaign, but is that exactly what you were. Can you explain that.
Rand Paul: The interesting thing is I have always been a Republican. I registered as a Republican when I was 18, went to the Republican convention when I was 13, and my family supported Reagan, so I’ve always been a Republican. Really in my case, as opposed to my opponent’s case, there has never been a question I’ve always been a Republican
Interviewer: And Ron Paul, isn’t there a redefining of the party always going on, especially right now?
Ron Paul: Yes, and I think that is the big issue right now because you hear about Tea Parties and other kinds of parties, and independence and all. But no, I think the Republicans are going through transition on trying to define themselves, because the Republican Party had a tough time a couple of years ago because they sort of didn’t do the job they were hired to do when they got control of the House and the Senate and the Presidency. And so they are struggling now to get their credibility back and define themselves.
The only thing I’ve noticed in Washington, when they’re out of office they’re real good conservatives. It’s the problem, and people know this, that when we get in office then we don’t have the determination to do what we had promised the people. And that’s what the American people are after now. They want people to go into office, say what they believe in, and expect them to do it, and this is where we are today, and people aren’t going to buy into… […] when you think about Massachusetts, here we have a Republican up there, so, I think it’s an interesting time, but I think all of this, whether you’ve been in the Republican party a short or a long time, you’re participating in defining that particular party.
Interviewer: The nation’s top elected Republican is Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. How would you describe his leadership, first to you.
Ron Paul: Well, first thing, I’ve never met him, and I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. If you ask me about John Boehner, I’ve met him, but I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. They’re Republican leaders and they fit in the mold, they’ve been in Washington, but I don’t have any one strong opinion one way or the other.
Interviewer: Dr. Paul, you and I have talked in the past about that, and one question I asked you before was about the hypothetical Jim DeMint vs. Mitch McConnell battle for minority leader, but you know why I asked the question, It’s more about who best fits the mold of the leader of a Republican Party that you would like to see. So I ask the question again to you, but I ask you, is Mitch McConnell is the kind of leader of the GOP that you would eventually want?
Rand Paul: I think in some ways he has been very good in being a minority leader, in some ways he has been very good in opposing Obamacare, we maybe had a chance of stopping that, reintroducing the health reform we would like to, so I think he has done a good job with that. I try to complement him on the areas we agree, but I think Kentucky wants two senators, they don’t want one senator, and so he’s fought for 10 years to overturn McCain-Feingold. I think that’s a very noble goal, it’s overturning legislation that another Republican introduced, it shows that we as a party are big enough to disagree. He disagreed with John McCain on McCain-Feingold, fought it in court and when the Supreme court ruled 5-4 last week, I called his office to complement him. Even though he isn’t particularly helpful in my primary, I will ask him for support after the primary.
Interviewer: Do you think he is supporting Trey Grayson then?
Rand Paul: He’s doing fundraisers for him, but I think I’m a big enough person that we’re going to win the primary. And when the primary is over I want to work with the whole party and not just part of the party.
Interviewer: And where do you think that the Republican Party has failed the most?
Rand Paul: Well, I say, our platform is wonderful. Our platform says we don’t bail out private businesses, our platform says we don’t have government ownership of business. But we voted for the bank bailout. Look at the President the other night. The President said, oh, everybody hates the bank bailout. Then why did he vote for it? You know why he voted for it? He didn’t read it like the rest of them. It was printed at midnight, 1,000 pages long, passed at noon the next day. They don’t read the bills. That’s why people come behind our campaign because we’re saying, stop, wait a minute, read the bills.
Interviewer: So I see a chip of the old block.
Ron Paul: He sounds better than I do, so he must have learned well plus some other.
Interviewer: What is it like for you just personally to hear him, to see him in this mold first of all, where a year ago… when did you actually declare your candidacy?
Rand Paul: That was August, actually.
Interviewer: So a year ago obviously, you’re a well known opthamologist in Bowling Green, an eye surgeon there, but when you see him doing this now…
Ron Paul: I think it’s pretty pleasing, but I was pretty pleased when he went to the medical school I went to, and became a doctor, he went to the same medical school to became an opthamologist, and that pleases both my wife and I very much. As a matter of fact, in life, sometimes that may well be more important, but it also proves the point that he has done something other than politics, but both are very pleasing.
Interviewer: Just in terms of obviously, you’re known, and your son has described you very aptly over the last few months a couple of times as really being a hero to many people, to stand up for libertarian small l values, and that kind of ideas. Do you think that he has and opportunity to be an even bigger leader than you in that respect if he’s elected to the US Senate?
Ron Paul: Oh, I think so, because I still am a little bit bewildered about the amount of attention I’ve gotten, because after you’ve been saying it for 30 years and nobody listens, you figure, well, nobody will ever listen. But all of a sudden, last couple of years… but events have changed, and he has a tremendous opportunity, people have a tremendous opportunity to look at these issues.
If you talk about a Federal Reserve system, nobody cares, nobody understands it, and all of a sudden you have a financial crisis and the Federal Reserve is involved, all of a sudden what you have been talking about becomes very, very important, and I think that is the difference, and it’s given me the opportunity, but still it’s a surprise to me, but I think he has unlimited opportunities compared to what I’ve done.
Interviewer: And is there a danger, I’ll ask you first, of being overshadowed by your dad?
Rand Paul: I think my dad has helped me tremendously. Not many people could run for statewide office as a first race. Because I’ve been part of that movement, I’ve helped him, had become well-known within the movement that he started, it definitely helps. But I also tell people, there are a lot of kids of candidates who never win, and I may be one of them, but the only way I win is on my own two feet, being out to present the message, and I have a great deal of respect and I owe him so much, but I can’t win it just on his coattails, I have to do it on my own.
Interviewer: Was there any reticence on your part to come here today just because of that danger of over shadowing your son?
Ron Paul: Yes, as a matter of fact, I would say that if other people judge what I’ve done so far, “why haven’t you done more”? So, no, this is the first time I’ve been here, and it’s going to be a couple of hours, so the way I figure it, I couldn’t be looking over his shoulder when he was in medical school, so I won’t be looking over his shoulder in politics, and besides, people think differently, it’s a different atmosphere, a different state, so I don’t think it would be an advantage to him, And I wasn’t jumping up and down, I didn’t call him and say “Hey, I’d really like to help you out, let me get up there.” When it was suggested, I said, “Well, I just might be able to work that into [my schedule].”
Interviewer: Tell me about some of the issues that your opponent especially has fixated on. The website that called the both of you “too kooky for Kentucky”, okay? So welcome to Kentucky. But some of the views are, for instance, let me ask both of you. Is America responsible, is it America’s fault that 9/11 happened?
Ron Paul: No, they’re not at fault, they didn’t get blamed, but I have talked a lot about this that America is you and me, and you and I aren’t at fault. But, policies have consequences, ideas have consequences. It’s sort of like saying, the people are at fault, because they allowed our government to spend too much. Well, the policies are bad, and I do challenge the policies overseas and I think they do have consequences, but that’s a lot different than blaming America.
Interviewer: But America, as an institution, as a government, do you think that the American government then is in part responsible for 9/11?
Ron Paul: For a long time I think we’ve gotten off-base on it. Just the same as, I talk about monetary policy, a lot started in 1913. I talk about […] foreign policy shifted, so I like to talk about, thinking about what the Old Right used to talk about in foreign policy, and that is sort of what George Bush talked about in the year 2000, when he was running, he said, “you know, maybe we shouldn’t be doing all this nation-building and playing the policeman of the world” as he was criticizing Clinton, and I just stay consistent with that message and I think the American people like that message.
Interviewer: How much like your father are you on that position on 9/11?
Rand Paul: What I would say is that the most important think you say from the beginning is, if someone murders your family, it’s their fault. We got to say, these people attacked us, and we say it is their fault.
There are other questions you can ask about it. Did they murder your family because you left your house unlocked? There are ways of looking at it and you need to look at the big picture, and the big picture includes foreign policy. I think there is a danger sometimes and where people misinterpret my father I think is that they think somehow it is blaming America, and it’s not. We are not to blame for people attacking us. It is their fault and they did something horrendous, and that’s how the conversation needs to begin. but then we say, why in the global scheme of things is this happen?
And the interesting this is that many people say we don’t look at this; in Saudi Arabia we had bases and we no longer have bases. Osama bin Laden wanted us to leave Saudi Arabia. Did we appease him? It was the George Bush administration that left Saudi Arabia. Maybe it was time that we left Saudi Arabia, but did we do that because we were attacked? Then it’s appeasing terrorists, which we don’t ever want to do, but at the same time do we want to have bases in Saudi Arabia? We’ve chosen now not to, we no longer have bases there we’ve gone to a friendlier country.
And there are other questions we have. The questions we have are, are we everywhere all the time to everyone, or are we nowhere and always here at home. And maybe we’ve gone to far in one extreme that we’re everywhere all of the time, and so I think we do need to be concerned with all borders, for example with national security. I talk a lot about that fact that 16 of the 19 hijackers came here on legal visas. Ten years later, the underwear bomber comes here on a legal visa, one-way ticket, no baggage, paid for by cash, his dad turned him in, and we still have no security in our country. We spent hundreds of billions dollars, and they can’t stop a guy that has every red flag possible.
We have to defend ourselves against these people, and a different foreign policy doesn’t stop all of that. We do have to defend ourselves.
Interviewer: What would you change about our foreign policy to discourage another 9/11 attack?
Rand Paul: I would end all travel visas to terrorist nations right now, and stop them until we have a better idea and understanding of how to regulate and police our own visa system. So I would stop them. I would put a moratorium.
In that same vein I would also introduce a frequent flier plan internationally and domestically, and if you’re going to submit to a pre-screening process… My brother in law is an airforce academy graduate. He flies three times a week and he is scrutinized, […] and all of this. My dad is a Congressman, scrutinized, […] Could we not do a little bit of checking in advance and not waste our time on people who are not going to attack us? Ten years and it’s not any better, because their answer is, let’s double and triple the bureaucracy, let’s throw money at it.
Homeland Security – everybody’s for it. Do you know who had the most earmarks for Homeland Security? Indiana. Do you know who got some money for Homeland Security? The pumpkin festival of Smithfield, a town of 2,000, the annual pumpkin festival got Homeland Security money. […] Instead of doing our job we just throw money at everything.
Interviewer: That’s anti-terrorists, but as far as anti-terrorism it seems to me that Congressman Paul, you’re talking about a situation where our policies alienated the United States from some parts of the world and in that way, it somewhat encouraged the attacks.
Ron Paul: Yes, and you know, when somebody gets murdered, the first question they always seem to ask in the press is, so-and-so is a suspect, but what’s his motive? Is there a motive? And I think that is important, and nobody wants to talk about the motive. But it’s out there, it’s laid on a platter. Bin Laden writes of it. He wrote of it all the time. He has a very strong motive, and as bad a guy as he is, he’s not known to be a liar.
So somebody should read that and find out exactly what the motive is. And that affects our foreign policy and if we ignore that then I think we’ll have more terrorism rather than less.
Rand Paul: And the other question that you have to ask on the foreign policy is, he was our ally for 15 years. Bin Laden was on the CIA payroll. We gave him stinger missiles. That was a mistake. It was the stated policy of our State Department throughout the 1980s to support radical jihad. Now everybody thinks jihad is a danger to our country.
We were promoting it because we didn’t like the Soviets. We hated the Soviets more than we didn’t realize radical jihad would eventually be a problem. Saddam Hussein was our ally. That were the things of our foreign policy that were mistakes, to give Hussein weapons and planes and billions of dollars because we hated the Iranians more than the Iraqis. But it all comes back to bite us because it’s a foreign policy that may be too overreaching, and that […] our own defenses.
Interviewer: Is it too overreaching in Israel, is that one area you’d like the US to scale back its involvement and support?
Rand Paul: I think Israel is an important ally in the Middle East, it’s a democracy, and there are many things that we will have in common and should work together with. I do say, and I’ve told the people who do support Israel in a big way, I’ve said, look, the problem is that we give $6 billion to Israel’s enemies that are all around her, and we give Israel $4 billion. We have to ask the question, where is the money coming from, we have a massive debt and we’re out of money.
And two, is it wise to sell 200 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia? What if next year they’re overthrown and they’re a big threat to Israel. So we may not be helping Israel by funding both sides of the arms race. We fund Israel’s side, but we also fund all of the Islamic allies, people who are somewhat opposed to Israel, we give them money too. We give everybody money. That I think is a problem.
Interviewer: Are we occupiers of Israel?
Rand Paul: I wouldn’t say of Israel, no.
Interviewer: Congressman Paul?
Ron Paul: No, that doesn’t fit the description of occupying. We occupy other countries, though. We occupy quite a few countries.
Interviewer: I know this is an issue that has been raised a couple of times here in the campaign, and I’m trying to make sure to understand your position. It’s because we can’t afford it, or because it’s the wrong idea for us to be supplying Israel, or bankrolling some of that support.
Rand Paul: Well I think financially we have to look at what we’re doing as a country. But I’m not saying we have no relationship to Israel, we never send anything to Israel. I’m saying right now we give 6 billion to all of their enemies, we give 4 billion to them,
And our country is approaching bankruptcy and approaching a deficit that is unmanageable.
So I do think we have to rethink what we’re doing on those. It’s not to say that there’s not going to be exchanges or sale of weapons to Israel. It’s just to say that we’ve gone way to far in the direction where we give everything to everyone, and we have to reevaluate what’s going on.
Interviewer: Gitmo is another issue in the campaign. Congressman Paul, I’ll start with you. Should Guantanamo Bay be shut down?
Ron Paul: Yes.
Interviewer: And why?
Ron Paul: Because I don’t like military prisons and military tribunals.
Interviewer: Would it be a danger at all to… Where would those prisoners go?
Ron Paul: They would go to the same courts that we tried the individuals that bombed the towers the first time. They went into our court system and they were tried and they are all in prison for life. Why should we be so frightened about them?
Interviewer: I guess the argument would be that these are military combatants as opposed to civilian ones and…
Ron Paul: Well, that’s where we get into the sloppy language, because the one thing that we as Republicans and conservatives have failed to stick to our guns on, is the constitution on war.
I was trying to get them to declare war when we went into Iraq so that you know who the enemy is and who the war is and where the battlefield is. But when you declare war on a tactic, the whole world is at war, and now we’re attacking, arresting people, assassinating people worldwide.
I think it’s very dangerous and I do not like the idea that Osama Bin Laden [Obama?] right now is contemplating on declaring that an American-born citizen, who happens to be probably a bad guy, but you and I don’t know that, he is an American citizen, and he is contemplating on assassinating him.
What has America come to? We have to have the law to protect us because we’re American citizens, and we want that same protection, but to say that, “oh, he is an enemy combatant”? He’s a suspect nine times out of time.
So I would say, defending the rule of law is probably one of the most important things any of us could do, because someday we might like to be protected by the rule of law, so I think we should be very, very cautious, and we prevent a lot if we as conservatives would say, “look, don’t go to war unless it’s declared, know who the enemy is, fight, and win it, and get it over with, and don’t have perpetual war for so-called perpetual peace.” That’s where think our mistake has been.
Rand Paul: My dad’s only been here 20 minutes and you’re making me disagree with him. I didn’t even have a chance to say hello.
I don’t think we should close down Gitmo until we decide what to do with the prisoners. I think there is a form of due process through the military trials. Our soldiers, if they’re accused of murder on the battlefield, are tried in military court, they do not have exactly the same protections as our civilian courts do. But what I’m fearful is that with Khalik Sheik Mohammed we didn’t do all the right things maybe in the way we was apprehended, or we did things that we wouldn’t do in civilian court. I’m afraid we take his case to the civilian court, and the judge says, you did these things, tortured him, or whatever you did to him, and his confession is thrown out, and I think that’s a problem.
I also think that if you pick up people in the battlefield, that you can’t have a microphone coming from the helicopter that is bombing them, saying “you have the right to remain silent”, I just don’t think we can have the same kind of thing in the battlefield. Now […] picked up in the battlefield.
I do agree with my dad though that some of the confusion comes from the declaration of war. the Supreme Court has upheld military tribunals in two cases in World War 2, but war was declared. So I’m a big believer and a stickler for declaring war, and I would have, and if I’m elected I will force a vote on declaration of war anytime we go to war.
And I think it’s open for discussion whether or not you could declare war on a group or not. In Afghanistan’s case though, I think you could have asked the government to turn over the people in those camps, they refused, we could have declared war against the Taliban government and whoever they were harboring and we should have, and then it would be clear-cut what is legal and what isn’t legal, because we would have followed the rule then.
Interviewer: So if you were in office right now then you would not support the war in Afghanistan because it’s not a declared war.
Rand Paul: I would support that we should declare it as a war if we are going to continue in a warlike fashion.
Interviewer: But if the Congress would not declare war then you would not support that action?
Rand Paul: Well, I think that’s a tricky one to go through, and I haven’t made a conclusion in regards to that, I think we have to ask questions. I think there needs to be a debate in the sense that, we have to ask, is our national security threatened? Usually that question is asked in the very beginning when you declare war. Now we’re in the middle of it, does it make sense to declare war after ten years, and who do you declare war against?
So it’s a complicated question, but we do need to bring up the question because it’s why, as we move forward at the very least, we should declare war and I think that’s the most important part of the discussion.
Interviewer: This is full circle as far as the whole tea party movement. How much do you think that you helped to launch that, Congressman Paul, and do you see that as being a key to your son’s campaign?
Ron Paul: Well, I’ll go back one step. I think Rand has proved this own … to think for himself.
The Tea Party Movement, there was a big surge of that interest on the Boston Tea Party Day. It was a big fundraiser, they were around the country, and they stood behind the campaign that I had, and it was a big event, a lot of money raised. It was spontaneous, it was not organized from above, it was organized spontaneously at the grassroots.
But I think it has morphed into something different. I don’t think anybody knows what it is, except for one fact that there’s a lot of people in this country who are sick and tired of the status quo, conventional Republicans and conventional Democrats, conventional spending and conventional foreign policy, the whole works. The American people are sick of this, and they are sick of this debt, and that is what the Tea Party movement is about, even though there is going to be a lot of variations.
I think one issue that we just discussed – I think the Tea Party movement has some disagreements on foreign policy. But they’re still the same people who are upset and want to do what’s best for America. So I think we helped start it; I have my own little private Tea Parties quite frequently, but most of them are held on college campuses, and I’ve been very encouraged that that group of Tea Party people, the young people who are inheriting this mess, they are very receptive to the views we’ve been talking about.
Interviewer: Last word?
Rand Paul: Tea Parties are huge, I think I was at maybe the first one in the country. Faneuil Hall, December 16th, 2007, we raised 6 million dollars for my dad, but it was the Boston Tea Party, not the original Boston Tea Party, but I [was there when it all began], and it is a big movement, and I’ve met with a lot of Tea Party folks in Kentucky and I think we’ll get a lot of them to support us.