Rick Klein: Ron Paul was our guest a few minutes ago on Capitol Hill. Check out the interview that Amy and I just did with him.
Rick Klein: Congressman Paul, welcome to “TOPLINE.”
Ron Paul: Thank you.
Rick Klein: So, big speech by the President tonight. Afghanistan. You’ve been a critic of this war for a very long time. What do you need to hear from the President tonight?
Ron Paul: That he’s coming home. But not token-ly. I don’t want to hear that he’s going to bring five thousand troops home, or ten thousand troops. We need to have a significant change in foreign policy, which means that all the troops come home, and turn that country back over to the Afghans, and let them deal with it—
Amy Walter: So, all the troops come home now, today?
Ron Paul: Sure. I mean, well, you can’t do it in 24 hours, but you can make the announcement, and you can start the withdrawal from that country, because there’s nothing for us to be gained.
Amy Walter: What about the criticism from some Republicans—including one of your opponents, [Minnesota Governor] Tim Pawlenty, saying he’s worried that what the Republicans are doing, when they make statements like this, they’re drifting towards Isolationism?
Ron Paul: Well, they don’t know the definition of “Isolationism.” Isolationism is something that the Protectionists want. They want to close borders for people coming in. And they want to close trade. And I have no desire to do that at all, because I’m a Free Trader, and I want as much travel and communication with other countries as possible. And this is what the Founders advised. We were never given the authority to be the policemen of the world.
Rick Klein: But if we pull out of Afghanistan, you’re not concerned that the terrorists take over, that there’s a greater terrorist threat?
Ron Paul: Sure I’m concerned. But I think we’ll have less danger to us if we don’t occupy foreign countries, because that’s the top motivation for the desire to come here and kill Americans. It’s because we’ve invaded their land, they see us as wanting to take their natural resources, and that’s what they get angry about. We put military bases on their land. The best way to think about this is, What if another country did that to us? Every American would be together. If the Chinese did to us what we do to other countries, no American would say, “Oh, that’s okay. They’re nice people. Maybe we can learn their culture and their religion.” That would be abs—… insane. And yet we go and think that we are promoting the goodness of America. The only way you can promote and spread the goodness of America is to set a good example and do it through persuasion.
Amy Walter: All right, so, we’re also involved in place like Libya. We’re still in Iraq, Yemen, all these places. What is the Ron Paul Doctrine, then, in dealing with what’s clear a threat from many of these countries?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s a threat because we’re there.
Amy Walter: So if we weren’t there, though….
Ron Paul: Over time we would have less threat, and we’d save the money. We can’t afford it. So we’re setting ourselves up for a brutal economic collapse, because this is a significant amount of money. We spend a trillion dollars a year maintaining our empire. So yes, we should come home from all those areas. There’s no authority. We’ve been fighting wars since World War II, technically in an unconstitutional fashion. We never declare war anymore, and the wars linger. That’s what my argument has been: If you want to fight a war, you declare it. This was the case I made when they were providing—preparing to go into Iraq. And I made them vote in the committee for a war resolution. Nobody voted for it, including myself. But I claim that if there is a danger to the people and our security, the Congress should represent the People and vote for it, and everybody should be with us; we should go and win the war. But no, they don’t want to assume the responsibility. They want to defer it to the Executive Branch, let the Executive Branch do whatever they want. There’s no victories, and it never ends.
Rick Klein: Do you think our relationship with China over the last few years—did it get stronger? Weaker? Are we in a better position, worse position than we were when Obama took office?
Ron Paul: I would defer to saying it’s probably been pretty neutral. I don’t think it’s deteriorated, because things are so much better than what I remember in high school. We were fighting the Chinese and the Koreans. One of my teachers was sent to Korea and never came back. So that had an impact on me. So it’s so much better. I think Nixon did a lot of terrible things; I always criticize him about closing the [unintelligible: gold bin?] and all these things. But he opened up the door to China. I think we’re much better off talking to the Chinese and trading with the Chinese, and they have an interest in staying peaceful with us, as we have an interest on them, even though we have our differences on some of the trade and “Why do our companies go to China?” And in some ways, they embarrass us, because they’re more Capitalistic than we are. It’s easier for our businesses to go to China than it is to stay here. That aggravates me. But I blame ourselves for that.
Amy Walter: All right, let’s talk about one other person, your home-state governor, Rick Perry, thinking about getting in. Want to give us an assessment of the Governor?
Ron Paul: Well, you know, I haven’t been involved in State politics. I know that one of our TEA Party candidates ran—without any money—against him and got 20% of the vote last time.
Amy Walter: So you don’t think he’s TEA Party enough?
Ron Paul: No, I never put him in that category. But I put him in the category of being very smart. He’s captured a lot of that sentiment. You know, when he threw out terms: “Well, you know, we have to protect our right to succession,” it always fed a little fodder, too, to the TEA Party people. So he’s pretty smart. And I think he would always come that way. So he’s into politics pretty well, and he would be a formidable candidate.
Rick Klein: Can he take credit for Texas’ economy, doing very well over the last decade, as you know.
Ron Paul: Well no, I think the conditions of Texas, over the many decades, has been healthier for the economy. It’s a Right-to-Work state; he didn’t do that, but he would support that. We don’t have an income tax; we do have high property taxes. But the environment there is good. Those people that lose their jobs in the Midwest and the Northeast, they come to Texas. We’re getting four new Congressional seats. In my own district, Caterpillar is opening a new plant. So some of the states have a healthier environment than the other states. But even Texas—if we don’t continue to do that—these jobs are going to still go overseas. So Texas has had a good environment for the business community.
Rick Klein: Congressman Ron Paul, the Republican from Texas, Republican presidential candidate, appreciate your being here on “TOPLINE.” Thanks.
Ron Paul: Appreciate it. Thank you very much.