Wolf Blitzer: The Republican presidential candidates are focusing largely on two early primary states today, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul are looking to build on their first and second place showings in the Iowa Straw Poll last weekend.
And joining us now from Manchester New Hampshire, the Republican Congressman Ron Paul, he’s a candidate for President of the United States, Congressman thanks very much for coming in.
Ron Paul: Thank you Wolf, good to be with you.
Wolf Blitzer: Thank you, at that last Republican debate, you really differentiated yourself from all the other Republican candidates, there I say the Democratic candidate, that will be the president of the United States, as well, when you made it clear that on national security and foreign policy, you want to bring American troops home immediately from Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea. Is that right?
Ron Paul: That is correct and immediate of course can be qualified a little bit, you know it takes a few days to get over there and pick them up. No, as soon as possible, the American people are with me on that, the majority respond in that manner, I don’t think we can afford it anymore, I don’t believe it’s in our best interest to be there because I think it undermines our national security.
Wolf Blitzer: So including Germany and South Korea, bring those thousands of troops home?
Ron Paul: Yeah, you know, the immediate benefit before you reorganize and decide how big the Army and Navy should be is, just think of all those troops spending all that money back at home. A few years ago and they’re thinking about then, again to close down all the bases here at home. Well there are some bases in this country that probably shouldn’t be open, but the ones overseas are more important to be closed down than the ones here, so I’d bring the troops home and have them spend all their salaries here at home, ‘cause Germany actually likes us to be over there for economic reasons, that helps them, helps their economy as well as the other countries. So I would say the immediate effect would be even the psychological benefit of knowing, “Wow, things are changing, he’s bringing these troops home, this is going to help our economy.”
Wolf Blitzer: And I just want to clarify your position on Iran, do you believe Iran represents no real threat to the United States?
Ron Paul: No real threat, I think it’s a threat just like there’s a lot of threats around the world, but if you compare it to what? Compare […] Soviets that we stood down, they had 30,000 nuclear weapons and that’s when I was in the military during the Cuban crisis, is when I was drafted. So yes, there’s always some threat but there’s not that much from a country like Iran, they can’t even produce enough of their own gasoline, they don’t have any intercontinental ballistic missile…
I see this so similar, Wolf, to what was happening to the lead up to the war in Iraq because remember they kept saying “Oh there are Al Qaeda over there, and there’s weapons of mass destruction, we have to go in there” and it turned out not to be true. Just think of the tragedies that have occurred since then.
So, no, I don’t think it’s a real threat and our CIA as well as United Nations does not argue the case that they’re on the verge of having a nuclear weapon, so the last thing in the world we should be talking about is a war, and remember just recently Bob Gates coming home, he says, “Anybody that’s thinking about another war needs their head examined” and I think that’s the way the American people feel.
Wolf Blitzer: Because the president and other top officials they express fear that the Iranians are working to try to build a bomb even though they may not be on the verge of having it, they’re in the process of trying to develop one, you don’t agree?
Ron Paul: Well I think they certainly would have an incentive but we haven’t been able to verify it, that’s what my argument has been. But I even extend it one step further, what if in one year from now they have one nuclear bomb, what are they going to do with it? They can’t deliver it, and if they try to, they’d be wiped off the face of the earth because there’d be retaliation.
So they aren’t that threat that people play them up to be. Matter of fact, Iran has a pretty good history of not invading other countries and looking for these kind of fights. The last time they were in a war is when we instigated Iraq’s invasion of the Iranians, so no, I just don’t see that as a major threat. I see the radicalization of Islam fundamentalism as a result of our foreign policy going back all the way to 1953.
Wolf Blitzer: For years, you’ve been an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, the Central Bank in effect here in the United States. Now Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, your opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, he’s going one step further and blasting Ben Bernanke, the chairman who was originally named by President Bush. Let me play the clip and then we’ll discuss.
Rick Perry: If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, uh treasonous in my opinion.
Wolf Blitzer: Alright Congressman, your fellow Texan, what would you do to Ben Bernanke if he came to your state?
Ron Paul: I’d try to educate him, I’d try to explain to him why he’s embarked on a terrible course of history and that he’s not going to be remembered well unless he changes his way. But hopefully, you’ve never heard and at least I try never to make it the individual as much as the philosophy, the Federal Reserve System. Sometimes they’ll ask me, “What would you do, would you immediately get rid of Bernanke, will that solve our problems?” And it really doesn’t, it’s the system, it’s the Federal Reserve System, it’s the fiat money, it’s no backing to the currency, the monetization of debt, the way they do it in secret, the $15 trillion that they worked with in the bailout, the way they bailed out foreign central banks and foreign governments during the crisis, and a third of that money went over there.
So I would say it’s the philosophy, it’s the monetary policy that we have to deal with, so he is not my target even though I hopefully address it in a different manner when he’s before the committee and try to ask him questions to expose what he’s doing in running the monetary system.
Wolf Blitzer: So did Rick Perry cross the line in talking about treason, talking about getting ugly, I mean you know your governor, tell me, is he temperamentally qualified to be president of the United States?
Ron Paul: Well, it may surprise you, I don’t know the governor; I don’t recall ever having met him.
Wolf Blitzer: Really?
Ron Paul: No, I haven’t met him, I didn’t know he had an interest and I don’t know exactly what he’s up to, so I just don’t use that language. I would think that he wasn’t being literal, I just don’t believe that he believes that but those words did come out of his mouth as you just revealed. But I think it’s different, in politics it’s very easy to target somebody thy name and target your opponents and talk about them specifically; in many ways I try not to do that.
Wolf Blitzer: It’s hard for me to believe, he’s been governor for 10 years and he doesn’t know one of the most distinguished members of the Congressional delegation, but let me move on because we’re almost out of time. Has the national news media been fair to you?
Ron Paul: Well a lot other people say they have not been…
Wolf Blitzer: What do you say?
Ron Paul: Well, I think candidates have this belief that they’re never treated really fairly, but generally speaking I would say it was really weird and in that sense I guess that verges on what people are saying, it was very unfair that I did pretty well in Ames and achieved a bit of a victory from our perspective, and then to have five networks not take any interviews, and then we had one major network on Monday morning that got cancelled at the last minute, so it was definitely different.
But I don’t dwell on the word fairness and what am I going to do about it, I just try to keep doing my job and presenting my case and I figure we’d probably sort of won that little argument because we did get many, many interviews and many, many things on the Internet where I think we benefited by showing, what are they afraid of? Why can’t they recognize what Ron Paul is doing? So I would…
Wolf Blitzer: I was wondering, sorry for interrupting. but I just want to ask you one final question, a Twitter follower asked me to ask you, if you don’t get the Republican nomination, would you consider running as an independent?
Ron Paul: I haven’t thought about that, right now I’m concentrating, I’m in a middle of a race, I described it today as like, I used to run track. I don’t think much about the end, I just run hard and see how things come out. but as far as contemplating third party, that has not given me any serious thought at all.
Wolf Blitzer: Congressman, I’ll see you September 12th when CNN hosts the Republican presidential debate in Tampa Florida. Good luck.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Wolf.