Ron Paul discusses the Tea Party and politics with Rachel Maddow.
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Host: Rachel Maddow
Sarah Palin: The Republican Party would be really smart to start their train to absorb as much of the Tea Party Movement as possible, because this is the future of our country. The Tea Party Movement is the future of politics.
Michael Steele: The Tea Party Movement is the revelatory moment for us. It really puts in stark relief where the American people are, how they feel, and what they feel. And I think it’s important for our party to appreciate and understand so that we can move towards it, embrace and look into the future.
Rachel Maddow: That’s the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and before him, the Fox News commentator they now say is the de facto leader of the Tea Party Movement, arguing that the Republican Party’s path back to power is that movement. That’s the rhetoric.
But today rhetoric became reality in the state of South Carolina where the state Republican Party and a coalition of sate Tea Party groups agreed to work together moving forward. The merging has started. And the effort by the Republican Party to adopt and absorb what sells itself as a grassroots conservative movement this time around, is way different from what went on the last time. There was an energizing grassroots movement from the right. Then it was the Ron Paul Revolution. Ron Paul supporters held rallies, sprayed painted street graffiti, raised astounding sums of money with one-day online money bombs, all without the help of a party machine, big money beltway lobbyists or even much prodding from Dr. Paul himself.
Despite that honest to goodness grassroots enthusiasm, look how Ron Paul was treated by the Republican establishment. He was excluded from a presidential candidates forum that was sponsored by Fox News. Dr. Paul elected to hold his own competing event at the same time. Ron Paul was refused a speaking slot at the 2008 Republican national convention. So, he held his own convention across town which drew more than 10,000 supporters.
In contrast, Fox News today endlessly promotes the Tea Partiers, going so far as to have their network personalities host Tea Party events. Leading elected Republicans today, of course, are falling all over themselves to speak at Tea Party events. Tea Partiers claim the small-government low-taxes mantel of libertarianism that has been the hallmark of the Ron Paul Revolution. But the Tea Partiers – at least some of them – seem to be opposed to him, too. As we reported last night, Dr. Paul is facing three challengers in his congressional district in Texas, all of whom are in some way aligned with the Tea Party Movement.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. Dr. Paul, it’s truly nice to have you back on the show. Thank you for your time.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Rachel.
Rachel Maddow: You are being challenged in your reelection primary by several Tea Partiers. What is your relationship with the Tea Party Movement now?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s about the same. You know, sometimes the Tea Party represents those views that I expressed during the campaign. The Tea Party type movement that people who are unhappy with the government, where I go, generally are on the campuses. And we still get large crowds out. But my message is somewhat different. I think the message gets a little bit diluted when a lot of people come in and the Republican Party wants to make sure that maybe there is a neocon type of influence.
But no, what we’re doing with the Campaign for Liberty is alive and well, and the young people are responding. But I talk a lot about a different foreign policy, I talk about civil liberties, and I talk about where we ought to cut the budget. And this is what they want to hear. I talk about the war on drugs. This is not what is generally heard from the Republican Party. And sometimes the Tea party accepts these ideas and sometimes they don’t.
But I think the one thing that brings people together is they know there is something wrong in Washington. You have progressive Democrats that know there is something wrong in Washington. They’d like a better foreign policy, too. And they are not exactly totally satisfied. But the people are coming together because they’re unhappy, they know the debt is outrageous, it’s out of control. Countries are going bankrupt, California is bankrupt. Our country really is bankrupt. And that’s what they’re unhappy about. And it’s out of control government. And I think I have been much more precise in what we should do and change in foreign policy, caring about civil liberties, and being truly a fiscal conservative.
And, believe it or not, I do have quite a few Democrats who are willing to agree with these basic principles in general, even on the balanced budget issue. I mean, there are Democrats who have actually joined with me and said, “You’re right. We may want to balance the budget in a different manner”, but they do agree that there is something seriously wrong when you’re spending a couple of trillion of dollars of year you don’t even have. That is nothing but danger for us in this country.
Rachel Maddow: Congressman, I don’t want to cause any family rifts in the Paul household, but I know your son Rand Paul is running for Senate, and he, in fact, made his campaign announcement on this show, which was great for us. We were honored by that. Now Sarah Palin has sort of emerged as the unofficial leader of the Tea Party Movement. She has endorsed your son’s run for Senate. Is there anything about her platform – either now or as a vice presidential candidate – that gives you cause about that endorsement?
Ron Paul: Well, I guess I could say that about most Republicans, they wouldn’t be any different. So yes, there is. But I am in the Republican Party and I’ve worked with Republicans. But I work with the Democrats too. But I try to find issues that cross party lines. You take transparency of the Fed, or personal privacy or maybe ending the war or talking about the war on drugs. So on these issues I can get support from both parties.
So sure, there are a lot of things that the average Republican might disagree with me and I will disagree with them as well. But I think what was really happening in the presidential campaign was they were surprised to find out. As a matter of fact, to my surprise too, that there were a lot of people out there that really cared about it and considered themselves even conservatives, not only libertarians but conservatives, constitutionalists, that wanted somebody to talk about these issues, and it think will continue.
But to say that, “Oh yeah, that’s what the whole Tea Party Movement is all about, that’s all they’re going to talk about”, I think I’d be naive to believe that’s going to happen because everybody likes to join what looks like a popular movement. And then they want to come in and influence that movement. But I think that happens to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. For instance, I think the neocon issues on foreign policy are not exactly dead these days, you know. There is an influence and progressive Democrats aren’t all that happy with the foreign policy. The war keeps expanding and more troops go into Afghanistan, bombing Yemen and bombing Pakistan and thinking about going into Iran. So that’s the infiltration philosophically of different positions, and I deal more in that arena hoping that the ideas of sound money and transparency of the Fed and a better foreign policy will actually affect both parties. Because I know there are a lot of Americans who agree with this issue and I know the young people are very open to these ideas.
Rachel Maddow: Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who, for a long time now, has represented the movement. But I think when it does cross some partisan lines and upset things in a small sea conservative way. Thank you very much for your time, sir. Really glad that you’ve been able to be with us. Appreciate it.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Rachel.