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Ron Paul: I am. Today, at this moment, I’m officially announcing that I am a candidate for president in the Republican primary.
George Stephanopoulos: Why?
Ron Paul: Because time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years. So I think the time is right.
George Stephanopoulos: Well, this is a big step for you, Congressman. Congratulations. And as you said at the beginning, you’re not afraid to cause controversies. You seem to be doing it again. Right now, just yesterday, we showed it in John Crow’s piece, you came out against the way that President Obama conducted that raid against Osama Bin Laden, while more than 90% of the American public support it. Why are you against it?
Ron Paul: Well, I was talking about the procedure. You know, I endorsed the whole idea of going after him, I supported going in to Afghanistan. I thought we blew it then. We had them cornered and we let them get lose, and we then went and invaded Iraq. We’ve spent a trillion dollars, we’ve lost 5000 American lives, we’ve killed many, many innocent people. So the process has being very bad. So I have no qualms about getting him, I’m delighted he’s gone. But the whole thing is we could have done it differently.
George Stephanopoulos: How could we have done it differently?
Ron Paul: And besides , ignoring the Pakistani government doesn’t help us at all. It looks like we’re trying to be more antagonistic towards the Pakistanis. They have helped us in the past to catch many terrorist, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do that.
George Stephanopoulos: But you would have taken risk?
Ron Paul: I think the process is definitely different. If you compare what we did after World War II, think of the worst Nazis who committed the holocaust, you know, we arrested them, we tried them and we hung them. I don’t know why we have to embark on a whole new system just because the people get rattled up. The politicians can rattle the people up. And after the dust settles, they might say, “Well, you know, there could have been a better way”. The other thing is, to make a decision on this whole process is a little premature. Every day we hear a different story about exactly what happened. So I was asked whether I could do it differently, and I said yes, and I think that the goals and the results would have been better. But I’m really worried about building this animosity with the Pakistanis right now. I’m all for cutting the foreign aid, I would have never given them any money, but I’m afraid that we’ve already expanded the war in to Pakistan. We’ve been bombing them, and at the same time wee bomb them, we give them foreign aid. So I think that the whole process now is to build up the enemy in Pakistan so that we have a massive invasion there and spread the war.
George Stephanopoulos: Let me turn to some issues here at home. Celia from Springfield, Ohio wants to tell us just how far your libertarian principles take you. She asks, “Do you think everyone should just be responsible for themselves, and if a flood washes your house away, no FEMA? Sink or swim?”
Ron Paul: No, I think that’s the way a free society works, and that’s the way the constitution mandates. I’m on the Gulf Coast, I have a house on the beach, or had one recently. And I don’t think somebody in New York or New Hampshire or Iowa has to pay for my flood on the Gulf Coast.
George Stephanopoulos: So how far would you go?
Ron Paul: So I bet insurance is an old fashioned way of doing it: buy insurance. And if insurance won’t sell it to you, it means it’s too dangerous. If it’s too dangerous, why dump the responsibility on the tax payer. It doesn’t make economic sense, it doesn’t make good moral sense, it doesn’t constitutional sense.
George Stephanopoulos: John showed in his piece that you would also give states the rights to legalize heroine if they wanted to. And you’re at odds with your Republican Party on so many issues: on foreign policy, on domestic policy, on social policy. Why not run as an independent, given your differences with the Republicans on some of the issues.
Ron Paul: Well, I would like to qualify a little bit about the drugs, but the question is why not I run as an independent. Because we don’t have true democracy in this country. We lose lives going overseas spreading our goodness and our great democracy, and we orchestrate elections and if we don’t like them, we avoid them, we ignore them, so we get the people that we support and the people in the CIA supports. But running as an independent here is just about impossible unless you’re a Billionaire like Ross Perot. You don’t get on debates. If I was in independent, George, you would not have me on this program this morning.
George Stephanopoulos: I’m not sure about it.
Ron Paul: I’ve been a Republican for all these years, I was elected to Congress as a Republican, my family is Republican. And I was out of the Republican Party for one year. There’s nothing wrong with nudging the Republicans to a true constitutional position to stick to their guns on fiscal conservatism.
George Stephanopoulos: Congressman, we only have a few seconds left. Last time around, you bet me everything I had in my pocket that you would win the presidency. It didn’t quite turn out that way. How do you define success this time around, in 10 seconds.
Ron Paul: My success is, I always win, you know, because the victories are one thing. But we win elections when people said we never could win elections. So I define by doing very well, I believe right now that me coming in No.1 in the Republican primary is an absolute possibility. Many, many times better than it was 4 years ago. Our troops, our supporters, the grassroots are enthusiastic, more so than they ever were. I was impressed, I’m super impressed now with the enthusiasm that we’re getting.
George Stephanopoulos: Okay. Well, good luck, Congressman.
Ron Paul: Thank you.