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Bob Schieffer: Don’t look now, but it happened, Ron Paul may have been a fringe candidate before, but he has moved into a statistical tie for the lead in Iowa where the first contest will be held in just a matter of weeks. Is he surprised?
Ron Paul: Not so much, I think we’ve been there for a long time, I think they’ve been in denial.
Bob Schieffer: Nor is he bashful about where he says our economic problems begin.
Ron Paul: The Federal Reserve is immoral, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s a disaster.
Bob Schieffer: As for foreign policy and a strong national defense …
Ron Paul: I think military spending diminishes our defense. I’d much rather see that money spent at home.
Bob Schieffer: He’s with us to talk about that, and a lot more. Then, we’ll turn to the deepening Washington gridlock over taxes and the deficit. We’ll hear from Pennsylvania’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, a member of the so-called super-committee that’s grappling with that. And we’ll bring in West Virginia’s Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, who has his own ideas about the mess Congress is in, as we explore the broader question: is all this the reason that Paris Hilton, according to some polls, is now more popular than Congress. This is Face the Nation.
TV Voice: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation, with Bob Schieffer.
Bob Schieffer: And good morning again, we begin this morning with Congressman Ron Paul. The polls, Mr. Paul, suggest that you are now in the thick of it out in Iowa, basically in a statistical tie with Romney, with Cain, and with Mr. Gingrich. So I want to ask you some questions now that you’re among the frontrunners. We need to know more about your positions on the issues, and I want to start with foreign policy, because your statements over the years posted on your website and elsewhere, some of the things you have said in the debates, suggest that you believe that 9/11 happened because of actions that the United States took. Is that correct?
Ron Paul: Oh yea, I think there’s an influence, and that’s exactly what the 9/11 commission said, that’s what the DOD has said, and that’s also what the CIA has said and that’s what a lot of researches have said. And just remember, immediately after 9/11, we removed the base from Saudi Arabia, so there is a connection. That doesn’t do the whole full explanation, but our policies definitely had an influence. And you talk to the people who committed it and those individuals who would like to do us harm, they say, “Yes, we don’t like American bombs to be falling on our country”, they don’t like the intervention that we do in their nations. So to deny this I think is very dangerous. But to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we are free and prosperous, I think is a very, very dangerous notion, because it’s not true.
Bob Schieffer: Well, I would question the import of what some of those commission found that you cited there. But basically, what you are say, Mr. Paul, is that it was America’s fault, that 9/11 happened, and it was our fault that it happened?
Ron Paul: No, I think that’s a misconstruing of what I’m saying, because America is you and I, and we didn’t cause it, the average American didn’t cause it. But if you have a flawed policy, it may influence it. When Ronald Reagan went into Lebanon, he deeply regretted this because he said if he had been more neutral, those marines wouldn’t have died in Lebanon, because the policy was flawed. It was the same thing that McIntyre said after the Vietnam War, he wrote in his memoirs that if we don’t learn from our policies, it won’t be worth anything. So I’m saying policies have an effect, but that’s a far cry from blaming America. In America you’re supposed to be able to criticize your own government without saying you’re un-American, that’s what the implications are.
Bob Schieffer: But what you are saying is it was the government’s fault, that basically is what you are saying.
Ron Paul: I’m saying it’s the policy makers fault contributed to it.
Bob Schieffer: The policy makers fault, alright. Let me ask you this, am I correct that your idea of how to discourage Iran from building nuclear weapons is to be nicer to Iran’s leaders? Is that correct?
Ron Paul: We have 12,000 diplomats, I’m suggesting that maybe we ought to use some of them. But just think of how we prevented a nuclear war with the Soviets when the Soviet missiles were put in Cuba. We didn’t say we’re going to attack you, Kennedy and Khrushchev talked and they made a deal: “You take your weapons out of Cuba, we’ll take them out of Turkey”. That’s the kind of talk that I want. I think the greatest danger now is for us to overreact, and this is what I’m fearful of. Iran doesn’t have a bomb, there’s no proof, there’s no new information, regardless of this recent report. And for us to overreact and talk about bombing Iran, that’s much more dangerous. We got the Libyans to get rid of their nuclear power and their nuclear weapons, and look at what happened to them. So we got to understand that.
Bob Schieffer: Mr. Paul, may I interrupt just for a second. No one has suggested in the U.S. government that we are going to bomb Iran, what they have said is that we’re going to impose very tough sanctions. You are against sanctions on Iran, is that correct?
Ron Paul: Yea, because sanctions are the initial step to war. I was opposed to all the sanctions for 10 years and the bombing that was occurring with Iraq, because I said it would lead to war. But if you say nobody is suggesting it, why don’t you listen to the debates and listen to some of the other candidates.
Bob Schieffer: Mr. Paul, may I correct you, I am listening to the debates. I know there have been some candidates who have talked about that, including Mr. Romney. The United States government has not said we’re going to bomb Iran, I mean, that’s just a fact.
Ron Paul: Obviously they haven’t said that, but the implication is ‘nothing is off the table’. You’ve heard those statements.
Bob Schieffer: Well, yes, alright. Let’s move on then, did you think there is any place in the world where United States forces should be stationed? You’ve talked about bringing them home from Afghanistan, from Iraq, is there any place where you think it helps us have U.S. forces stationed?
Ron Paul: No, other than the fact that I think a submarine is a very worthwhile weapon, and I believe we can defend ourselves with submarines and all our troops back at home. This whole idea that we have to be in a 130 countries and 900 bases … now they’ve just invented a weapon that can hit any spot in the world in one hour, I mean, what’s this idea? This is an old fashioned idea that you have to keep troops on 900 bases around the world, it makes no sense at all. Besides, we’re bankrupt, we can’t afford it anymore.
Bob Schieffer: So if you were president, you’d bring home the troops from Japan, you’d bring home the troops from South Korea? You would, okay.
Ron Paul: Absolutely, and the people are with me on that, because we can’t afford it, it would save us a lot of money, all those troops would spend their money here at home. And besides, those troops overseas aggravate our enemies, motivate our enemies, I think it’s a danger to our national defense and we could save a lot of money by cutting out the military expenditures that contribute nothing to our defense.
Bob Schieffer: Alright, let me ask you about some domestic things. Your plan to get the country back on a firm financial footing is to close, including among other things, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Commerce, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. You would cut back the federal workforce by 10%, you’ve also suggested we should close FEMA, which is the emergency management agency. I have to ask you this, what do you do about all the things that those agencies control, run, supervise? For example, what happens to the National Parks if you close the department of the Interior, do we just let them go by the by, or what?
Ron Paul: No, no way, and the program deals with this, there’s transition funds. But we would like to see a lot of land sold off, but we’re not going to just ignore the parks, not at all. The money is in there, these are departments that are doing too much, the American people are sick and tired of our educational system. Just think of how we’ve been involved, and we give out loans, and we educate students, the cost of education goes up. They graduate and they don’t have jobs and they have a trillion dollar worth of debt. We have to question that. This country is in bankruptcy. We have to deal with it, we can’t remain in denial. And that is my argument, and believe me, this is why I’m getting a good reception on the campaign trail.
Bob Schieffer: Alright, well, we want to thank you for coming on this morning and for answer the questions. Ron Paul, thanks for being here this morning.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
Bob Schieffer: We’re going to shift gears now and talk about what’s going on in Washington.