Ron Paul on the State of the GOP

Ron Paul talks about his place in the GOP and comments on Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Michael Steele.

Channel: CNN
Date: 04/12/2010


Kiran Chetry: Republicans are now looking ahead and eyeing a major political comeback. They rallied their troops at a leadership conference that took place this weekend in New Orleans, where a straw poll gave us an early indication of potential GOP candidates in 2012.

John Roberts: Mitt Romney topped Ron Paul in the ballot by just one vote. There you see all of the results. Sarah Palin was third, Gingrich fourth. Both well back of the frontrunners though. Congressman Ron Paul joins us this morning now from Clute, Texas. Congressman, great to see you this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ron Paul: Thank you. Thank you, John, nice to be with you.

John Roberts: Over the weekend, we heard a little back and forth in difference of opinion between Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin about whether or not the Republican Party should be the “Party of No.” Newt Gingrich is saying, You can’t be the “Party of No”; you got to be the “Party of Yes”. You got to tell people what you’re for. Sarah Palin Is saying, no, it’s OK if you don’t like something to say “no”. Where do you, Congressman, come down on that?

Ron Paul: Well, I agree with them both. If you don’t like something, you say “no”, but usually there’s an opposite to “no”. You’re saying “yes” to something, so I have to say “no” a lot to most of the legislation in Washington, but I am saying “yes” to the Constitution and to the principles of liberty. So, in a way, they’re both right. I don’t think there’s too much of a disagreement there.

Kiran Chetry: Right, but I think what Newt Gingrich seems to be saying was that you have to sort of stand for something that you can point to, maybe it’s legislatively, maybe it’s just on principle. Standing up and explaining because I think right now, obviously when you’re the minority party in Congress it’s harder to show, “this is what we want to get done”. So what do you do? What’s your role as the minority party in Congress when it comes to trying to let people know what you stand for?

Ron Paul: Well, I think that’s the goal, and of course that has been my goal all along. Some people say that when you’re in the opposition, all you do is knock down the other side because they’re doing badly and that you’ll pick up the pieces and then you’ll tell them. Because if you tell them specifically what you believe in, they’ll start challenging you though. But if you really believe in something, you believe it’s correct you usually come across with saying, “This is what I believe in. I believe in sound money. I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy and civil liberties. I believe in the free market.” So that’s all “yes”, and I of course believe that, sincerely, that I don’t run for office. I run to see if I can get support for certain ideas, so when I can get the support of the votes or win something, that to me is a sign that they’re accepting these ideas which I consider very positive.

John Roberts: And you were there over the weekend. You did very well, as we said, in the straw polls. Sarah Palin was there as well, and of course she’s become a very popular figure, draws huge crowds. To some degree, she has become the face of the Tea Party. Your son Rand said that she would be a great president. Did you agree with that? Would she be a viable candidate in 2012?

Ron Paul: Well, I don’t make predictions like that at all, because I’ve been watching this for a long time, but I’ve always been waiting for a great president. And quite frankly, there’s been a few getting into office that have very very few qualifications, and those who have qualifications I don’t see a whole lot of difference. To me, it’s back to the ideology of the people. The president and the Congress reflect the people. If the people want welfare and warfare, that’s what the Congress and that’s what the President gives. So to me, it’s a change of attitude. As long as the people want to be taken care of by the government, no matter what that individual says or does, whether they’re popular or they don’t think a whole lot, they’re going to do what attitudes are. But also there’s a conflict between what the prevailing attitude of people actually is versus the power of the lobbyists. The people might not want government medical care, but the lobbyists might. So then there’s a fight, and of course that fight is out in the open now, what the people want versus what the lobbyisst and the politicians want.

Kiran Chetry: One big player in that whole fight has been the Tea Party. We’ve sort of seen it evolve over the past year, especially through the health care debate. It seems like it’s hard to define. What are the main issues that the Tea Party stands for?

Ron Paul: I think clearly there’s a fair amount of disagreement on exactly where they come down on, say, the war on drugs and foreign policy. I think what unifies them is they’re disgusted with hearing promises that are not being fulfilled by the politicians. They don’t trust the government. But they also are very, very concerned about the size and scope and the failure of government, and really the bankruptcy of government. Because it doesn’t go unnoticed that the national debt is rising so rapidly. Last week the national debt went up $108 billion in one week, and the people are sensing this.

Kiran Chetry: Right, but what about all the other things we see in this Tea Party? Some have argued the elements of, perhaps, racism. Some of the other things, talking that Obama is a socialist. Obama is a communist. They’re present at some of these rallies.

Ron Paul: I think that’s 1% or 2% and it’s blown out of proportion when some person in the media can picks this up and play that up and forget about 99% of what they’re saying. They want limited government and these are good people. Yes, there are elements like that both on left and right but I don’t think that’s their theme at all. But there’s always risk in politics, whether you’re on the left or right. There are people who will join you for ulterior motives and they tend to want to discredit you. That’s why the individual who is presenting the case has to present the issues. I have to defend my views; I can’t defend the views of everybody or who ever shows up at one of my events, because that would be impossible. We don’t screen people.

John Roberts: Congressman, just before we go, let’s see if we can get you on the record with this. Michael Steele, the RNC Chairman, he was also down there. A growing number of people are calling for his resignation, saying he’s not the best person to be leading the party. What are your thoughts on that? Should he step down?

Ron Paul: I don’t think so. I think he’s doing a pretty good job compared — there’s a bluntness but once again it might be a little lack of control of some of the people that work for him, he did something, I don’t think he was personally involved but it’s a big operation. He’s been winning some elections and he’s raised a lot of money. Anyway, he’s the first Republican chairman who’s had at least reached out to me, at least would talk to me. Generally, the Republican leadership don’t want anything to do with me, and they don’t want to have anything to do with the Ron Paul people. They should be looking to us and saying, “Why don’t we help these young people who are so anxious and interested in what I’m talking about?” Maybe they can be and should be in the Republican Party instead of being excluded. He’s reached out and he has imperfections, he has admitted those. We all have those. But to kick him out of office right now, that’s not going to happen. It wouldn’t make any sense as far as I’m concerned.

  • PaulieGirl

    Good luck getting a NON neocon in charge of the republican party. Is there a “conservative” (term used loosely) talking head that is ANTI-WAR? (other than RP of course)

    • How about Rep. Walter Jones to answer your question. I agree with Citizen the GOP should not only appeal to their base they should appeal to Independent voters like the Dems did in order to win more elections.

  • Citizen

    The Republicans have to build a broader based coalition made up of
    Constitutionalists, Tea Party, Libertarians etc. to appeal to the more conservative INDEPENDENTS.

    Dr Paul is building a coalition consensus of conservative planks
    1. Sound Money, End the Fed, 100% reserve banking, STOP INFLATION
    2. Free Markets, Stop Government over-regulation, class warfare manipulation, corporate welfare and crony favoritism
    3. Liberty, Let people keep more of their property, lower taxes is a good start.
    4. National Defense, Not Offense, BRING THE TROOPS HOME stop trying to police the worlds personal problems.
    5. Secure the Borders, enforce immigration laws.
    6 Legalize and Regulate Drugs, Stop the Drug War, we’ve lost, get over it!
    7. Dismantle the Industrial “Offense” Complex
    8. End the Entitlements, their bankrupt, stop being delusional, FDR and LBJ Ponzi schemes are failures we can’t afford them
    9. Get rid of worthless Government Departments. like Education, EPA, and 20 others, they don’t work
    10 Liquidate the GSE, Fannie and Freddie

    and that’s a GOOD START!
    Some sacred cows must die


    • Fred the Protectionist

      “The Republicans have to build a broader based coalition made up of
      Constitutionalists, Tea Party, Libertarians etc”

      Actually that’s exactly what the RNC has been doing and is exactly why Republicans keep losing elections.

  • Ryan

    I have to disagree with one point RP made; I think it makes perfect sense to kick Michael Steele out of office, if not just choose a different leader for the party.

    As long as the GOP is as divided as it is, and lead by a neocon, the party will not attract more people. Quite the contrary. The trend of the conservative people in our country is clearly towards limited government, Constitutional adherence, and principled politicians. Therefore, we need a leader in the party that matches the trend of the people. Just as we need a leader of the nation that matches the will of the people. That is why Ron Paul is so popular right now: he is a role model, an icon, of what the people want from our politicians. So to me it makes perfect sense to get a party leader that also fights for what the typical conservative wants right now.

    The Tea Party movement is the voice if the average conservative, including both republican and liberty folks, and together they define what conservatives want to see in their party leaders. Michael Steele is definitely not the best voice for the party. Boot him out!

    .. And don’t stop there! Get rid of all the neocons, or at least as many as possible. This act from the voters will show clearly what the conservative trend is, and as a result the chances for a GOP victory against the Democrats will greatly improve. We need those young voters and fringe independents. They will not vote for neocons. But they would vote for libertarians like Ron Paul. We should therefore make the changes that the people want to see. And the only way to do that is get rid of those that do not represent what the majority of the people want.