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David Gregory: Here with us live this morning is Dr. Paul, the Texas Congressman and candidate for president. Of course, Dr. Paul, welcome back to the program.
Ron Paul: Thank you, it’s good to be with you.
David Gregory: Did Newt Gingrich do anything to diminish his chances in Iowa last night?
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t know whether he did it, but I think because he had to face a lot of serious questions about his change in positions and when he has to defend … I would think that he shouldn’t have gained from that, but that remains to be seen. I guess somebody is going to do a poll rather quickly. But we’ve had people leading the pack off and on this whole past year, so it will be interesting to see just what happens in the next week or two.
David Gregory: The question of who is the consistent conservative, the issue of him receiving payments from Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant; this was the subject of where you took him on last. And his response, watch.
Ron Paul: Well, he’s been on different positions on so many issues, you know, single-payer. He’s taken some positions that are not conservative, he supported the TARP funds. And the other thing that really should annoy a lot of people, is he received a lot of money from Freddie Mac. So, in a way, Newt, I think you probably got some of our tax payer’s money; they got taxed and they lost money and [Freddie Mac] are still getting bailed out. But you’re a spokesman for them and you receive money from them.
Newt Gingrich: I was never a spokesman for any agency, I never did any lobbying for any agency, I offered strategic advice. I was in the private sector, and I was doing things in the private sector.
David Gregory: Congressman Paul, this week you said that Gingrich should apologize for taking that money. Are you satisfied with how he answered that last night?
Ron Paul: No, not really, but what can you do in politics, that’s the best he could do with it. But the crowd didn’t welcome his answer very well, because, obviously, they see him playing a role of influence. And a lot of money, what was it, 1.6 million dollars that he received. And this is the epitome of the bailouts and the problems and, of course, it annoys me a little bit more because it was a subject I have worked on for so long, having been on the Financial Services Committee and deal so much in the formation of bubbles and why we have distortions and why we have recessions. So this was rather annoying. Then he also tried to make the point, “Well, it’s the Federal Reserve that causes the business cycle”, which is correct. But I’ll tell you what, when you make the credit, somebody has to distribute it and somebody has to benefit, and it was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and they’re still in the business of receiving tax payers money. It’s a deeply flawed system, so we can expect the housing bubble and the correction from that to resolve itself until we look at this in a more serious manner.
David Gregory: But just to pin you down on this, because you were very direct about this this week: should he give the money back, should he apologize for receiving the money from Freddie Mac?
Ron Paul: Well, legally he doesn’t have to, but I would think morally … if he hadn’t received this money. But I wouldn’t have taken their money just for the fact that I think it was an immoral thing to take money. And besides, I don’t like this idea that you’re going to influence somebody that is a pseudo-government agency. This was my argument over the many years , that because they got subsidies and they had a line of credit and they were guaranteed a bailout, it was written all over that this would come about, because it was artificial, there was a line of credit, the Fed was involved. So it was, as far as I’m concerned, about as close to the government as you can get. To call that private, is not exactly accurate.
David Gregory: Well, let’s come back to the key point in the debate last night: who is the consistent conservative? The issue came up about healthcare and support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts by Governor Romney, whether he supported it nationally, as is the case with the President’s healthcare legislations. I mean, Newt Gingrich supported it as well in the early 1990s. It was Michele Bachmann who took them on as whether they’re real conservatives, coining the phrase, “Newt Romney”. Listen.
Michele Bachmann: If you want a difference, Michele Bachmann is the proven conservative, it’s not Newt Romney.
Mitt Romney: I know Newt Gingrich, and Newt Gingrich is a friend of mine. But he and I are not clones, I promise you, I’m sorry, Newt.
David Gregory: Do you buy that? Who is the real conservative out of those two? You got to go through one or both of them to win in Iowa.
Ron Paul: Well, I think they come from the same mould, they’re about the same, they’re both on the defensive, they’re both explaining themselves. And I even said that last night, that why should we have nominees that are going to spend most of their time explaining themselves and deciding what position they were on and when. I think that’s too much on the defensive. I think if you’re consistent, it speaks for itself. Nobody ever challenges me about that, but I don’t have to brag about it, either, because everybody knows exactly what I’m going to do, exactly what I’ve done for 30 years. So it goes without speaking about it.
David Gregory: I just want to be clear on this point, you consider both Gingrich and Romney unacceptable as consistent conservatives?
Ron Paul: Well, I would say they’re not consistent, I think they more or less admitted that they’ve changed their positions. It’s not that they’re in denial, it’s just that they admit they were on one side of a position here, and on an other side of a position at another time. So I think that’s pretty clearly understood. It’s just that that’s not considered a litmus test, it seems like people are rather tolerant, they think, “Oh, he did that 10 years ago, but he doesn’t do it now”.
David Gregory: But, Congressman, you’ve been tough in your ads that are up in Iowa, you do go after Gingrich for flip-flopping, being all over the place on issues like climate change when he cut an ad with Nancy Pelosi. You never specifically go after Romney. Are you more comfortable with Romney as a standard bearer of the party should it come to that, should you not beat him?
Ron Paul: Well, I think their philosophies are pretty close, but I think the answers that were given last night, I think Romney comes back a little more diplomatic. I think that he handles himself a little differently than Newt. And Newt is living up to this, matter of fact, he’s addressed the subject that he is a very determined person and can rub people the wrong way, I don’t think he’s saying that he doesn’t do that. I think Mitt has a little bit more diplomatic tone to his voice.
David Gregory: So who represents more change, out of those two who represents change in the way that Republican primary voters want? Let’s start with the guys you have to go through.
Ron Paul: No, I don’t think either one of them represents change. Matter of fact, I’ve always categorized all my opponents as fitting into one category, they more or less support the status quo. I mean, how many of them are challenging the foreign policy, how many challenge the monetary system, how many challenge the welfare system, how many want real cuts? Nobody else is offering real cuts in spending, and I offer real cuts. So I would say they’re all a variation of defending the status quo, and I think that’s why they’re so much frustration and people are hopping around looking for somebody. And I think, quite frankly, that might be the reason we’re going up in the polls. And we still have a few weeks to go, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
David Gregory: Let me ask you about foreign policy since you raised it. Last night, it was Gingrich who first made news on Saturday by saying the Palestinians were, in his words, “an invented people”, and he defended that last night saying that they’re major elements in the Palestinian leadership that are committed to Israel’s destruction. And then he added that:
Newt Gingrich: Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth, these people are terrorist, they teach terrorism in their schools, they have textbooks that say that if there are 13 Jews and 9 Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money, it’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East”.
David Gregory: Is that courage, is that speaking that truth, or is that pandering to evangelical Christians in Iowa?
Ron Paul: Well, I think it was purely a political statement, but I think it demonstrates my point and makes my position very clear, that all the harm done is not only on one side, and that fight has been going on in that part of the world for a long time. And I remember so clearly what Ronald Reagan said when he got messed up in Lebanon, he said that if he had been more neutral and had followed neutrality and had not put those marines in there, those marines would still be alive. In other words, he’s saying the politics of that region is irrational, the irrationality of the politics there. And that’s why I think it’s such a wise thing to do to follow our founders and not pretend that we know who the bad people are and who’s saying the bad things, and one side is perfectly pure and the other side are only the terrorist. A lot of people die over there and a lot of people die on both sides, and I don’t think we have the wisdom to sort that out, nor do we have the authority to sort that out and put our will. I think that region should be determined by the individuals there, I don’t think Israel should ever sacrifice their sovereignty to us, and I think that’s what they have done. They can’t do much, they can’t defend their borders or design their peace treaties without getting permission from us. And I think we should defend the sovereignty of Israel and not confuse things and make things worse by demagoguing and saying exactly who is to blame and who isn’t to blame.
David Gregory: Before you go, Congressman, let me ask you about the strength of your following. Mitt Romney acknowledged it last night, saying everywhere he goes in Iowa, your supporters are there, and he respects that. If you don’t prevail in Iowa or don’t prevail to get the nomination, will you endorse?
Ron Paul: Oh, I have no idea, I’ll wait and see about that, it depends on how the platform works out. You know, I was bragging a little bit last night when I asked about our opponents up there and I was very pleased that some of them were starting to use a little bit of the language that I use. We’ll wait and see how things go. And since they are willing to change their positions, and have in the past, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and see what happens. But my main goal is to look to January 3rd and January 10th. And we’re doing well and so it’s premature for me to be talking about what I’m going to do after January 10th until we find out exactly how this plays out.
David Gregory: In the past you have endorsed a libertarian candidate, somebody outside the two-party system. Are you ruling out a third-party run at any point?
Ron Paul: I have no plans to do that?
David Gregory: Are you ruling it out?
Ron Paul: I’m not going to rule anything out or anything in, I don’t talk in absolutes and I stick to my position. We really have a very nice campaign going on, and people are recognizing this. And we have thousands of young people now that are campaigning for us, and the turnouts are just fantastic.
David Gregory: Are you open to a third-party run?
Ron Paul: I am not even thinking about it.
David Gregory: But you won’t rule it out completely.
Ron Paul: I have enough on my plate right now, we have a lot of campaigning to do, and we’re going to be very, very busy in these next couple of weeks; that is what I’m concentrating on, and we’re going to see what happens.
David Gregory: Alright, Congressman Paul, we will be following the debt very closely, thank you so much.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome.