Ron Paul on Sunday defended controversial comments he made about AIDS patients in a 1987 book, while also disputing indications from recent polls that his support is slipping in Iowa.
The Texas congressman wrote in his book, "Freedom Under Siege," that people with sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS bear some responsibility for their condition and should not burden others with the cost of their care.
"The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim -- frequently a victim of his own lifestyle -- but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care," he wrote.
Asked about the comments on "Fox News Sunday," Paul said: "I don't know how you can change science." Sexually transmitted diseases are "caused by sexual activity," he said, and "in a free society people do dumb things, but it isn't to be placed as a burden on other people, innocent people."
"Why should they have to pay for the consequences?" he said.
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Paul called that idea a "socialistic attitude" and said insurance companies should determine coverage. "The market should handle this," he said.
The congressman said the law certainly shouldn't deny AIDS patients coverage, but suggested they should be subject to the same considerations insurance companies make for other groups -- like smokers.
"You don't have a right to demand that somebody else take care of you because of your habits," Paul said.
Paul also defended a passage from the same book that suggested victims of sexual harassment should quit.
"They have the right to work there or not work there," he said, adding that federal law does not need to cover sexual harassment as violence in the workplace is already prohibited.
The latest Des Moines Register poll shows Paul in second place in Iowa, trailing Mitt Romney by just 2 points. However, the final two days of polling in the four-day poll show Paul slipping into third place and Rick Santorum moving up into second.
Paul's hands-off approach to foreign policy, as well as controversial writings, such as in his 1987 book and other newsletters which he has since distanced himself from, have drawn criticism in recent weeks.
But Paul said "our numbers aren't going to go down," claiming his supporters are more loyal than the supporters of his competitors.
"They don't desert," he said. "They're not going to leave us, as they have with the other ones ... so I think our numbers will continue to grow, even in these last couple days."