Jake Tapper: Let’s turn to Congressman Ron Paul. Many political observers say he’s on track to win in Iowa, but today, he’s back home in Texas. Congressman Paul, welcome, and happy new year.
Ron Paul: Thank you, it’s nice to be with you.
Jake Tapper: So your rivals have really started to unload on you on the home stretch, given your prominent perch in the polls. Newt Gingrich says your views are “Totally out of the mainstream of every decent American”. John Huntsman has a web ad calling you unelectable, citing a decade worth of newsletters published under your name containing bigoted statements against minorities. And even the Des Moines Register poll that shows you essentially tied for first with Mitt Romney, says that you are leading the pack in terms of who is least electable in a general election. This is a real area of vulnerability for you. How do you convince Republican voters that you are, in fact, electable against President Obama?
Ron Paul: Well, the whole thing is a contradiction in terms that I’m leading in the polls, and that means I’m electable. I’ve been elected 12 times in Texas when people get to know me. We’re doing well in the polls, our crowds are getting bigger and the people who are complaining are the ones who are way down in the polls. So they don’t have a whole lot of credibility about my electability. But, indeed, nobody can prove anything until we have a real election, and we’re going to have a real caucus vote, straw vote, on Tuesday night. That’s going to tell us a whole lot. And, matter of fact, our campaign feels pretty good about how things are going.
Jake Tapper: But certainly, Congressman, you would concede that some of your views, some of the principles you hold in terms of drug legalization or in terms of … I know you wouldn’t call it isolationism, but a non-interventionist foreign policy in the world. These are views that are not shared by a majority of Americans, and I think the concern among Republicans is once they are better known, that would hurt you.
Ron Paul: See, I think that’s where the contradiction is. Quite frankly, I don’t believe that statistic because I think the majority are with me. What percent want to come out of Afghanistan? It’s like 75%, 80%. How did George Bush win in the year 2000? He talked about a humble foreign policy, non-intervention, no nation building, no policing of the world. And Obama was seen as the peace candidate just 3 years ago. So I would say the American people are with me, more now than ever before. They’re with me on cutting spending. Nobody else is proposing cutting spending, I want to cut a trillion dollars out of the budget and I get support from all the Republicans on this. And I would say that it remains to be seen, but I feel very comfortable with the growing number of people that come out to our rallies, and the enthusiasm. I’ll tell you what, I think it’s a mistake if people want to write me off and say that I am not with the people. Matter of fact, it’s so appealing, that we get a lot of independents and a lot of Democrats coming to our rally. And that’s what you need in order to win elections. So I am pretty optimistic about what’s going on, and, of course, I’ve always been optimistic about the message of liberty and a constitutionally limited government. And I think it’s catching on, I think the people have come around to believing that the government fails in their efforts to do good. They want to be a good policeman of the world, they want to provide goods and houses to everybody. And look want happened to the housing bubble and look at the prolongation of these wars overseas. So people are now looking more carefully at a constitutional approach to government.
Jake Tapper: Alright, congressman, we have a lot of issues to discuss and only a few more minutes left. I do want to ask you about those newsletters published under your name in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1990s you defended them, in 2001 you said you did not write them. You now say you did not write them, you did not read them and you disavow them. So if you could give a straight answer on this, who wrote these newsletters and do you still associate with these people?
Ron Paul: Well, I think your assessment there is mixed up because the reporting has been bad. I wrote a part of the letter, I never said I didn’t. I wrote some of the economic parts. I was not the editor, I was the publisher. And there were some very bad sentences put in and I did not write those, I did not review them, and that was an error on my part. But I condemn them.
Jake Tapper: Who wrote them?
Ron Paul: I don’t know exactly who wrote them, I had 8 or 9 people working for me back then, and a lot of people wrote a lot of different things. So I’ve condemned them and did not write them and I’ve said this quite a few times. So I just don’t think that in itself is going to have long legs, because people who know me, know exactly what my thoughts are. People know everything about that in my district, it’s never been a big issue at all. And most importantly, on the issue of race relations, I’m the one that really addresses it. When we look at the drug war and the imprisonments and the court systems, the death penalty, the imbalance of the suffering of the minorities in our military, whether we have a draft or no draft. So I think the court system is very, very biased, whether it’s the issuance of death penalty … If you look at it, I’m the only one that’s talking about that. So I’m the true civil libertarian when it comes to this, and I think that people ought to look at my positions there rather than dwelling on eight sentences I didn’t write and didn’t authorize and have been apologetic about because it shouldn’t have been there, and it was terrible stuff.
Jake Tapper: Well, I think it’s more than 8 sentences, but moving on, one of your former close aides recently said that you “Engaged in conspiracy theories, including perhaps the 9/11 attacks were coordinated with the CIA and that the Bush Administration might have known about the attacks ahead of time”. So have you ever expressed in front of anyone …
Ron Paul: No, wait, wait, wait, don’t go any further than that, that’s complete nonsense. Just stop that.
Jake Tapper: It’s nonsense, it’s not true?
Ron Paul: No, I never bought into that stuff and I never talked about it. About the conspiracy of Bush knowing about this, common, common, let’s be reasonable, that’s just off the wall.
Jake Tapper: And then lastly on the newsletters, I just want to ask this: you published the For Profit Newsletter under your own name for decades and you didn’t know what it included extremely offensive statements. Assuming what you’re saying is 100% true, you did not see these sentences, doesn’t this call into question your management style?
Ron Paul: Well, I think so, but I don’t think anybody in the world has been perfect on the management of everybody that’s ever worked for them. So, yes, it’s a flaw, but I think it’s a human flaw, I think it’s probably shared by a lot more people than myself. Because when you’ve had hundreds of people over the years that have worked for you … and it’s happened even in big corporations and big newspapers or on TV stations. You can’t monitor everyone. Somebody on a TV station say something, but does the publisher get blamed for what the person says? So no, you can’t monitor every single thing. But it is a flaw and, of course, I admit that I’m an imperfect person and didn’t monitor that as well. But to paint my whole life on that is a gross distortion, because we have to remember I didn’t write them, I didn’t see them before that, and I have disavowed them. That, to me, is the most important thing. The only other thing that we should do, is you and others should look at all my other statements and my defense of civil liberties and race relations. Believe me, if anybody cared about it, all they have to do is go to the internet and the defense is honest and straightforward, and you will get an honest assessment of my views on race relations. And that’s all I ask for people to do, because I feel quite comfortable with myself. I know where the shortcomings were, but I’m very comfortable with my viewpoints, believing very sincerely those people who know me, know exactly where the defect is in race relations today. It’s in the judicial system where minorities are mistreated more so than anybody else.
Jake Tapper: Alright, Congressman and Dr. Ron Paul, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much, good luck on Tuesday and hope you have a great 2012.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
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