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Ron Paul: The purpose of the constitution was to limit and restrict the federal government, and the purpose was to protect liberty. This is what the goal should always be in a free society: the protection of individual liberty. It is with those conditions, where we as individuals, can strive for excellence and virtue, which is a personal matter. And if you chose not to strive for excellence and virtue, you don’t have to, but you can’t expect the government to take care of you forever, either.
Megyn Kelly: Watch out, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, we are getting word out of Iowa that Ron Paul is now drawing some of the biggest crowds of the primary season. Young, energetic and enthusiastic voters are reportedly finding something they like in his libertarian, smaller government, lower spending message. The latest polls in the first in the nation caucus state show Ron Paul running in a strong third (this is the Fox News Poll, look at this). Gingrich is at 36%, Romney is at 23%, Paul at 12%. Wait until you see the RealClearPolitics average. The presidential candidate joins us live now from Mason City, Iowa. Congressman, thanks so much for being back on the program.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome, it’s nice to be with you.
Megyn Kelly: So here you are in the Fox New Poll at third in Iowa. And then when we look at the RealClearPolitics average, this is the national average for Iowa, you are tied for second, sir. It shows Gingrich at 29.8%, Romney at 17.4% and you at 17.4%. Do you think you’re going to win this state?
Ron Paul: Well, we can, because I can find some polls that show we’re doing a little bit better than that. So no, we’re doing very well, and like you mentioned, the crowds are very good. You know, last night in Iowa State we had over 1,300 young people who came out, that was pretty exciting for me and for them.
Megyn Kelly: Now, one of the messages we talked about in the introduction – and my apologies, sir, gosh, you look cold, you look so cold. Is it 7 degrees in Iowa, that’s what I heard?
Ron Paul: It is a little bit chilly, I don’t think we’re going to be playing any golf this afternoon.
Megyn Kelly: Oh, poor thing. I mean, I’ll see you there next week, but right now I’m in the studio at 75 [degrees] so I’m sleeveless. Okay, let me ask you about your message, because we talked about smaller government and we heard the sound byte about how people really need to pick themselves up, not rely so much on big government. It seems like President Obama is out there with a very different message, and has been hitting it hard this week talking about how the Republican Party just wants to leave the middle class to fend for themselves. And that may be resonating with some lower-income and middle-income voters, thinking, “You, the GOP, don’t want to do anything to help us”. What say you?
Ron Paul: Well, I think what’s happening is the American people are way ahead of the politicians in Washington, including the President and the Congress. I think the people have realized that the promises by big government have failed, they’re not delivering. And even those who have been receiving and those who’ve have paid, both of them have realized that we’re coming to an end. This planned economy, big spending, deficits, printing money, endless wars are all coming to an end, and they’re not dealing with it. Even in Washington, when they talk about cutting, they’re not talking about cutting anything, they’re talking about cutting proposed increases. And the American people see through this, especially the crowds I’m talking to know very much that is the case. So when I talk about cuts, I talk about real cuts, like cutting a trillion dollars in the first year. And I get a good applause from talking in this language, because the American people are sick and tired of what they’re getting right now.
Megyn Kelly: One of the areas in which you’ve been most controversial, is foreign policy. And this week there was an interesting forum that all the Republican candidates for President were invited to, except for you. It was a GOP forum on Israel. And you would have been the lone dissenting voice on America’s policy with respect to Israel. Your thoughts, sir, on being excluded from offering your voice?
Ron Paul: It’s pretty strange, I guess only those people who excluded me can give you real answer. But I think it’s rather strange that they don’t want a debate, they don’t want a discussion, because I take a very strong position that’s pro-Israel. Matter of fact, I’m the one that defends the sovereignty of Israel, I don’t want Israel to be beholding to us. And I think when they depend on us, they have to do what we tell them. Matter of fact, a Jewish writer came to my defense just the other day and said, “Ron Paul really understands Zionism, because the two basic principles of Zionism are independence and self-reliance”. And even Netanyahu, this year, said before the U.S. Congress, “We don’t need American troops to defend us, we can take care of ourselves”. So I’m just sort of talking in a language that some people in this country don’t want to hear, and yet there’s a full discussion of these views in Israel itself. So the whole idea of not having a full discussion, is one issue that I think should be challenged. But I think my message is getting out, I think everybody knows that I want Israel to be our best friends, I just don’t want Israel to depend on us, I want them to determine their borders and determine what they want to do and that they don’t have to ask us permission to do what they think is in their best interest.
Megyn Kelly: I want to ask you about another comment they made out in Iowa this week where you talked about what happened after 9/11. You’re notoriously anti-war, you want troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and don’t want us getting involved in any military conflict in Iran. And what you said was, “Think of what happened after 9/11. A minute before there was any assessment, there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq”. Do you really believe, Congressman, that there was glee in the Bush Administration after 3,000 American citizens died?
Ron Paul: They might not describe it that way, but there was a lot of pleasure. And matter of fact, Bob Woodward quotes them in the book, and he quotes the President as saying, “This gives us an opportunity, because we don’t have to go after the people responsible for this directly, we can go after others”. And if you look at what Paul O’Neill said on the very first cabinet meeting in 2001, months before 9/11, he was dumbfounded that the whole agenda was going into Iraq. So yes, neo-conservatives, even years before this, were looking for an opportunity. This doesn’t mean they had glee about 9/11, that’s a total misinterpretation. They had pleasure in knowing that they had an excuse now to do what they’ve been wanting to do for so long. And what did they do? They marched into Iraq based on lies, there was no Al-Qaida, no weapons of mass destruction, and look at the tragic outcome from that effort. Undeclared war, and matter of fact, that’s carried over into Afghanistan and it looks like it won’t ever end unless we change the administration.
Megyn Kelly: And quickly, Congressman, let me ask you this, because I know you’re doing well in the polls in certain states. But everybody wants to know if you would seriously consider, if you don’t get the GOP nomination, a run as an independent? Many believe that would fracture the GOP party and hand victory to president Obama.
Ron Paul: Within weeks to go for this primary and to find that we may come in first, it’s not on my mind, believe me.
Megyn Kelly: Alright, we’re going to sneak in one more question before I let you go, and that is: the NLRB has now dropped its lawsuit against Boeing, and that got a lot of coverage and it was about Boeing and whether it was trying to avoid certain union rules and so on. Now it’s dropped that lawsuit after Boeing struck a deal with one of the unions. Your reaction?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s good, I hope they weren’t forced to accept a deal that they shouldn’t have. Because I don’t even believe in the NLRB, I think companies should go and come where they want. But anything that would encourage or discourage a President from arbitrarily using the Interstate Commerce Clause to stop commerce and people moving back and forth … the Interstate Commerce Clause should have protected that, it should have been absolutely unconstitutional. I would have liked the decision to be made on constitutional grounds, that a President or anybody else has no authority to prevent one company from going from one state to another. That was prohibited by the constitution.
Megyn Kelly: Ron Paul, we’ll see you next Thursday night, in Iowa.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
Megyn Kelly: Stay warm. Gosh, he looks cold.