Related Content: Ron Paul’s NYC Mosque Press Release
Show: CNN American Morning
CNN Anchor: It’s safe to say that you were Tea Party before Tea Party was cool, Congressman Paul. And we’re noticing a lot of Tea Party candidates all over the country today. Is this going to be a big day for those candidates, or do you think it’s maybe going to be something that the incumbents will hang their hat on, like John McCain out in Arizona?
Ron Paul: Well, I think it will be a mixed bag and I think even though, let’s say, half of the Tea Party candidates win, it’s a pretty big deal. But no, they’re not going to win all their support – you know, everybody they support. I think it will be pretty mixed.
CNN Anchor: And let me ask you about one of the races up in Alaska. Sarah Palin has weighed in, throwing her weight behind the challenger in that race, Joe Miller, running against Senator Makowsky. And I’m just wondering, what do you make of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee; some of these big name Republicans sort of weighing in in individual races across the country. Do you think that’s a good idea?
Ron Paul: Oh, I think they’re pretty good. I do it, but I’m very, very selective. I just have trouble finding the candidates I really get enthusiastic about. I want candidates that have a real Constitutional take on foreign policy and civil liberties, the drug war and also on economic matters. But no, I think for them to weigh in, but I want the people to sort all these positions out, so that they know exactly what is being supported, what positions are being supported.
CNN Anchor: Do you think it’s meddling for somebody like Sarah Palin to go into a contest like the one up in Alaska and throw her weight behind the challenger there, or perhaps another state like Georgia where she gets criticized somewhat for doing that down in Georgia?
Ron Paul: No, I wouldn’t call it meddling. I think our presidents have done this for many, many decades, if not ever since the beginning of time, the beginning of our country. So no, I think it’s pretty traditional to do it. Maybe some people overdo it, and exaggerate and do it just to build up chips and get people to support them later on. But no, I wouldn’t use the word ‘meddling’, but sometimes I guess they get overly involved more than they should.
CNN Anchor: Let me ask you about one of the issues that’s come up during a lot of these contests all over the country, and that’s the proposed Islamic center and Mosque near Ground Zero. You came out very much in favor of that project, mainly along libertarian lines, saying that property rights and freedom of religion rights are a big part of this. And on your blog you wrote that opposition to the mosque is all about hate and Islamaphobia. What did you mean about that?
Ron Paul: I think the people who are organizing that is one thing, but now that every candidate gets asked that question, I don’t think you can put them all in the same category. But the organizers, the woman that put this out on her webpage and the people that picked up on it and preached this, yes, I think that they want to continue the hatred towards Islam rather than Al-Qaida in order that justify their foreign policy of intervention and nation building and occupation, because if you don’t have an enemy that you despise, it’s hard to get that support.
But you know, I think it’s turned into another issue as well, maybe your station has reported on this Imam and he seems like a pretty reasonable person. So if he’s a reasonable person that worked for Bush as well as Obama, and he’s making inroads because he’s trying to bring Christians, Jews and Muslims together. So if that would happen, there wouldn’t be as much hatred over there. So I think maybe there are some now that are trying to destroy him and his reputation, and I think that’s going to backfire. It sounds to me, and I don’t know the individual, the Imam, but it sounds to me like he might be a very reasonable person. So in order to perpetuate this foreign policy, not only do they have to perpetuate the hate towards Islam, they have to really destroy somebody who might be bringing the religious factions together.
CNN Anchor: And what do you have to say about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, comparing this Mosque near ground zero to having Nazi symbols outside of the Holocaust Center. What did you think about that? Was that an appropriate comment, do you think?
Ron Paul: Well, I think he’s overstepped his bounds and I think he’ll suffer the consequences for it, because it was over the top. I mean, to compare this Imam to Hitler and the fact that there are mosques within that area already, and that he ignores the fact that there are strip joints in this area, and he has to go after an Imam that is trying to bring people together, yeah, I think for a bright guy like Newt Gingrich on some of the issues, I would say, politically he’s made a major mistake.
CNN Anchor: Do you think he should apologize for that comment?
Ron Paul: I don’t believe in these apology games. He’s going to have to apologize to himself. He’s going to be sorry, but being sorry about what he did and recognize it will be a much bigger deal than if the media comes and badgers him in into making a public apology. But maybe he’ll come around to that, but it should be spontaneous and earnest but not as a reaction to badgering by the media: “When are you going to apologize?” I never quite thought that was good.
CNN Anchor: What about your son, Rand Paul, who’s running for that Senate seat down in Kentucky. He’s taken a slightly different position than you and has essentially come out against the project. Is that causing any friction in the Paul family?
Ron Paul: No, as a matter of fact, I really haven’t spoken to him about it. But I think he’s in a category of most of the people who are running for office who get pushed, and rightfully so, by their opposition or by the media and say, “What is your position, do you want it or not?” and he’s taken a different position. But that isn’t my concern as much as the people who started on the website and picked it up and the politicians who are trying to gain a lot of points. And they’re active in promoting this mainly because they believe in an interventionist foreign policy and they want to make sure that Islam is blamed rather than Al-Qaida. And so yes, I think it’s okay to have a disagreement on exactly what we should do with the mosque. As a matter of fact, my emphasis is not on should the mosque be built or shouldn’t it be built, that is very secondary. Everybody recognizes on private property and a place of worship… we’re supposed to protect that.
CNN Anchor: Your problem is more in playing the politics, you feel that some of these people are playing politics with this is what you’re essentially saying. What about the president, did he make a mistake weighing in on this controversy, do you think? Did he inflame this controversy by weighing in on it?
Ron Paul: You know, some people are saying this, especially on the conservative side, but actually I didn’t think his statement was all that bad. I thought it was conciliatory in trying to bring people together. I mean, he and Bush both hired the Imam to go over and promote bringing the religious factors together. So no, I wouldn’t go out of my way to condemn him for saying that. Now politically he may have stirred the flames, because that just gave more ammunition to the conservatives who like to pick anything he says and make a political issue out of it. But I don’t think it’s the right one. I’d rather pick issues like too much spending and why he’s expanding the war in Afghanistan. But since too many conservatives like the expansion of the war in Afghanistan, you know, they are willing to go and attack him because he might send a message that they disagree with. But no, I don’t think his statement was all that bad.