Don Lemon: So other conservatives have called on Steele to step down, like Dick Cheney and Weekly Standard editor Senator Bill Kristol. But you won’t hear Texas Congressman Ron Paul joining that drumbeat. He is coming out in support of Steel’s comments and he is joining us live via Skype. Happy 4th of July to you, Congressman. And before we misconstrue anything, you are coming out in support of these comments, right?
Ron Paul: Well, not in the entirety but I come out in support of Chairman Steele because I think it was overkill. He made a very casual comment. He wasn’t setting policy. And all of a sudden people jump on him like we’re not allowed to have a discussion. As a matter of fact, I did like what he said. So I enjoyed the fact that we’re willing to have a discussion about the popularity of this war. And truly it is Obama’s war, even though it was started during the last administration. Obama said this is the Good War, he’s expanding the war and the American people aren’t with him. The majority of the American people are tired of the war and they’d like to see an end. They’d like to see our troops come home. I mean, this idea that as soon as somebody has a discussion, even if it’s an off-hand discussion, people are clamoring for him to resign… I don’t think that’s quite fair.
Don Lemon: Congressman, you have to let me get in on this, because it seems like, you know, I understand what you’re saying; you want people to talk about the war. But it seems like he wasn’t factually correct. Very little of what he said, if anything, was correct factually in those comments. And he came back himself and clarified them, so why are you supporting him for comments that he had to clarify?
Ron Paul: Well, I didn’t hear his clarification. But if he clarified his statement… because he wasn’t making a policy statement. He came back and said, “I’m not stating policy, that’s not exactly my position as you interpreted it”.
Don Lemon: But he wasn’t telling the truth.
Ron Paul: Pardon me?
Don Lemon: He wasn’t telling the truth.
Ron Paul: Well, I think you’re not telling the truth right now yourself.
Don Lemon: He said that this war was started by the Obama administration that no one wanted to go into this war. In fact, when we went into this war, most of the country supported it and it was started, again, under President Bush. So most of what he said, if not all of it, was not factually correct.
Ron Paul: When he saying politically this is Obama’s war. Even in the last campaign, matter of fact, I thought Obama was more hawkish on this war than McCain was, because he was calling for increasing troops in Afghanistan before the Republicans were. So I think, in many ways, at least politically, this is Obama’s war and it is a political issue. The Republicans really suffered from the fact that the Iraq war continued for so long and it hurt us at the polls. So I think that Republicans ought to have a right to at least say that maybe this war isn’t going well and not blindly support every single thing that is being done. And then all of a sudden if an individual does, you know, people accuse you, “Oh, you’re un-American, you’re unpatriotic.” And they pile on and then they pressure somebody like Chairman Steele that he has to back off. But he didn’t have a policy statement, he was merely making a casual statement. And when he said that for over a thousand years, and even longer, nobody has been successful in invading Afghanistan, he is telling the truth. That is not a lie.
Don Lemon: Hang on, hang on. You have to let me get in there, because I want to go through more subjects, and so let me jump in every so often, okay Congressman? You have publicly questioned Republicans who want Steele to resign over this. In fact, this is what you said, “And I have to ask myself, ‘What is the agenda of the harsh critics demanding his resignation? What do they support Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama’s war?'” What do you mean by that statement?
Ron Paul: Well, it is. They’re the ones who are running foreign policy, Republicans don’t have anything to do with foreign policy. They’re the ones who demanded to increase the troops, they’re the ones who are pursuing this and it’s not going very well. Matter of fact, it’s going very poorly. We’ve been there nine years and the evidence is not very good that we’re going to have a military victory. Matter of fact, the military and the politicians don’t even seek a goal of military victory. They’re hoping they can get a political victory so that isn’t the goal. So what are we doing? Why are we there? The Al-Qaida is not there. There are probably 100 or so, according to our CIA which just reported last week, but they’re probably in Pakistan. And if we go and chase them into Pakistan, they’re going to go to Yemen. If we chase them out of there they go to Somalia. It’s a fruitless venture and it deserves a discussion. And if the chairman of the party actually relates that he has a little bit of doubt about this, I think it’s very healthy and he shouldn’t be called to resign.
Don Lemon: The chairman of the party and you seem at odds with what most people in the party, especially high ranking Republicans, feel about this war and about these comments. What do you make of that? Are you feeling the pressure from that?
Ron Paul: No, I think they may be feeling the pressure of the American people who agree with me. And, of course, I’m a stickler for the Constitution and limited government and the way we go to war. And I think the American people by large numbers are now with me on this. So I just don’t think that people should be closed out in the debate.
Don Lemon: Hey listen! I want to ask you this. I want to ask you this.
Ron Paul: I think it certainly wasn’t necessary for Michael Steel to resign over this, he’s clarified his statement and that’s fine and dandy.
Don Lemon: We’re going to have to go to a break in a little bit here, Congressman, but I want to ask you: if you were not feeling, if conservatives weren’t feeling so positive about what might happen in November, do you think would even you be calling for Michael Steele to resign. Do you think the drumbeat would be even louder?
Ron Paul: I have no idea, I can’t interpret it for them. But all I know is that for them calling for him to resign means that they don’t think about November. That was one of my points in my statement. Why do this now? Why call for a resignation when the Republicans are doing well, and it looks like they’re going to have a victory. Why do they want to divide us now and say, “Oh, let’s have a big fight over Michael Steele”? That’s not good for the party. We’re doing well, we’re winning elections, the momentum is on our side, and there is nothing wrong with the debate on this issue, because the American people will welcome it. People generally vote for the peace candidate, they voted for Obama because he came across more for peace in the last election. And George Bush in the year 2000 was the peace candidate. He said, “No nation building, no policing the world”, and he won the election. So I would say it’s a very popular position, it’s a traditional Republican position. And to say that just because a person hints that he might be sympathetic to this, he has to resign, that is not right.
Don Lemon: And this will continue, no doubt, until up in November. The Republicans will use it one way to say it’s okay. The Democrats will use it against them. So we shall see. But most of all I want to thank you for coming on today and taking time.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome.
Don Lemon: It’s an important day, a holiday for our country. Thank you.