Thursday, May 10, 2007

Transcript: Tucker Carlson interviews Ron Paul on MSNBC before the May 3 debate

Transcript. Fox News, May 3, 2007

TUCKER CARLSON (Host): A nationally televised debate is perhaps the best, maybe the only opportunity for the less famous among the presidential candidates to make their marks with the public. It's a place for those to force their issues with the leading contenders. Probably the most interesting contender in this entire race is a congressman from Texas named Ron Paul. Unlike virtually everyone else in the Republican party, he is an actual libertarian. He's also run for president before; I'm willing to admit, I actually voted for him as a Libertarian in 1988. I'll get my conflict out of the way at the very beginning. We welcome now from Simi Valley California, Ron Paul of Texas. Congressman, thanks for coming on.

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: Thank you, nice to be with you.

CARLSON: Well, I slobbered all over you in the intro, so I bet it is! [laughter] You were, uh, congressman --

PAUL: Good job!

CARLSON: Thank you. I think you were, you are the only Republican running for president right now who actually voted against the war in Iraq at the very outset. Are you going to bring that up, on the stage tonight?

PAUL: Well, if I have the chance I certainly will, because 70% of the American people now think that the foreign policy is going in the wrong direction and want a change. So you can't win an election next year if you don't go with what the public wants, and they want a change in foreign policy. But I was opposed to what was going on in Iraq a long time before it started, because there was an Iraqi Liberation Act passed in 1998, indicating that that would be our policy. So I was speaking out against the war for 5 years before it started, and it's turned out that this war has not gone well.

CARLSON: Sometimes candidates who get in the race because of their ideas, who really believe what they say, and I'm putting you -- and I mean that as a complement -- in that category, you can feel the anger that comes off them when they address members of their own party who they feel like have sold out the true beliefs of their party. Do you feel anger toward your fellow Republicans for squandering the opportunity they had in 1994?

PAUL: No, I don't have anger, but I'm very interested in the philosophy, because I think ideas change the world. But I don't think that the ideas of this administration are wholly to blame for our foreign policy. We have a foreign policy that needs to be addressed, not micro-managing troops. We need to macro-manage our foreign policy, and that's what we haven't done well. I just don't believe in the interventionist foreign policy. I believe in the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers who talked about non-intervention. Republicans over the decades have benefited by taking this position. We have been, generally, the peace party. And, you know, look at, Korea War, we won the election with Eisenhower, and after Vietnam we won. And even in the year 2000, we ran against nation-building and policing the world and a humble foreign policy. That's the Republican position, that's the conservative position, and that's the message I would like to get out.

CARLSON: Then where did all the utopianism come in? I mean, who introduced into the Republican party the idea it was our moral obligation to bring democracy to the rest of the world, that our soldiers ought to die so other people could have a different form of government. Where did that come from?

PAUL: Well, unfortunately, it came from a very liberal Democrat named Woodrow Wilson. "Make the world safe for democracy." So that idea's been around for a long time, but it's the neo-conservatives that have revived that idea here in the last seven years or so, since they took over foreign policy. But they pushed the traditional conservatives out of the way. The neo-conservatives are not conservatives, they come from the left wing of the Democratic party, they in in entitlements. And what have we done as Republicans? We have fully endorsed the entitlements, and that's why this country's in financial bad shape. I mean, we're overspending on our foreign policy and our military commitments. At the same time, we're massively increasing the scope of government in Washington, increasing domestic spending, even with these entitlements, doubling the size of the Department of Education, over-regulating... So I think in many ways the Republican party has lost its way, and we deserve, in this country, to hear from the conservative Republicans, and give them a chance to get their message out.

CARLSON: But what is their outlet? For the small percentage of Americans who are genuinely conservative or classical liberal or libertarian or whatever you call it but who believe in freedom and limited government, and there are some left. They're not being represented at all by the Republican party. Who do they vote for? Who did you vote for last time? Who will you vote for if you don't become the nominee? Who holds their flag?

PAUL: Well, it depends on who our nominee is going to be. And hopefully there are enough people now who are interested in these views, that believe in liberty, believe in the Constitution, believe in limited government and a balanced budget. There's nothing radical about it. To me, the radical idea is over-spending, over-borrowing, and then resorting to printing money when you run out of it! And you wonder why you have financial problems. Or borrowing it from the Chinese to finance our military operation. I mean, most Americans are waking up to this. So, no, I'm offering this, obviously I think I can provide an opportunity to represent these people and represent the country. To me, it's the most practical thing to do. To me, it's also a traditional Republican conservative position. And, unfortunately, like you indicate, the Republican party no longer has been acting conservatively. But the conservative views of this country, the traditions, the Constitution, there's nothing about that that we should be embarrassed about. A conservative does not have to be embarrassed about being opposed to needless war, war that is undeclared. Here we're going to war, ever since World War II we never declared war, we've never won a war! There's nothing conservative about that.

CARLSON: I agree.

PAUL: This is a tremendous opportunity for conservatives to be heard.

CARLSON: Yeah, when your operating philosophy is, "Please don't bother me, and I'll try my best not to bother you," there's nothing embarrassing about that, and I wish people would articulate it better. Ron Paul, you articulate it well. I appreciate your coming on. Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks a lot.