OTR Interviews

Is Ron Paul's Time Now?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "ON THE RECORD" GUEST HOST: I'm Martha MacCallum -- good evening, everybody -- in tonight for Greta.

Right now, the second official presidential contender says he is more serious about it than ever.


MACCALLUM: Good to have you here this afternoon. Congratulations on your potential run. Why should folks take you more seriously this time? And why do you think is your moment, as you have said?

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I'm pretty excited about what's happening in the country because I've been talking about the same things that I have recently for all my life in politics, you know, for 30 or 40 years. But all of a sudden, there's a lot more attention. And I noticed that with the last campaign, toward the end, especially when I was talking about economic policy and then the financial and the housing bubble that wasn't actually happening and then it burst. We gained some credibility.

So the whole ideas that are behind free market economics are now very, very popular. It has now become a popular thing to talk about monetary policy and how that, you know, creates the business cycle. And of course, there's a lot of people in this country now that are tired of us being drained with our militarism around the world and these constant wars and so many casualties and sick people that we have --

MACCALLUM: All right, you've touched on a lot of topics, and I want to get into a couple of those with you a little bit more specifically. You know, when you look at a very ardent group of supporters. And in some of the recent polls, you fare fairly well against President Obama. But last time around in '08, you came in fifth in Iowa. You would have to have a much stronger finish in Iowa. How do you go beyond that ardent group of supporters that you have, the libertarianist sort of, you know, very passionate group and expand that to other Democrats who might consider you or independents who might consider you?

PAUL: Well, we have to run a good campaign. We have to present our views. People have to understand it. And we also capitalize on the number of supporters that have actually signed up, and the fact that so many have signed up to be volunteers and spontaneously already sending money, even before I declared. So if you were compared to those people who put their names on the line four years ago, when I entered it, it was in the terms of thousands. But now it's in terms of maybe hundreds of thousands --


PAUL: -- of people who have expressed interest. So it's just that momentum that is building, but it still remains to be soon. We have to convince the American people it's in their best interests to change these issues, the economic issues and the foreign policy and all. And if that is the case, then I think we can be successful.

MACCALLUM: Let's talk about the hottest foreign policy discussion, you know, of recent days, and that is the killing of Usama bin Laden. You have said that that operation was not necessary. I think a lot of families of the victims of 9/11 would take serious issue with that, sir.

PAUL: Well, then they didn't understand what I'm saying. I think it was very necessary that we deal with the problem. Matter of fact, I was very strong on that issue and think -- and think very carefully that it should have been done 10 years ago and maybe save 5,000 American lives and 40,000 severe injuries because we did have him cornered in 2001 in Tora Bora and we ignored it. And then we went off and fought another war that was unnecessary.

MACCALLUM: Well, why do you say this operation --

PAUL: So people who --

MACCALLUM: -- was not necessary?

PAUL: People who are concerned would be very happy with what I would have done and should have done because that was the policy I endorsed.

MACCALLUM: So -- but why was this operation not necessary, in your words? Is it --

PAUL: Well, I think -- what I said, which means that there were other ways to do it. Why take on another skirmish with Pakistan, which may lead to our invasion of Pakistan because there's nothing but chaos there?


PAUL: Let me -- let me finish. Pakistan has been very helpful in the past in helping us capture these criminals and these violent people. And they have -- they did catch the people that were involved with the first bombing of the towers. And they gave them to us and brought them back and we tried them. I'm just saying that there are ways of doing it without creating more enemies. Today, we were bombing in Pakistan --

MACCALLUM: But don't you think -- don't you think, Mr. Paul, that -- you know, that they would have -- if they had been willing to help us, they would have done that beforehand? You know, how can you say you would have done it differently?

PAUL: Well, they have.

MACCALLUM: We've been trying to do this every which way possible --

PAUL: They have --

MACCALLUM: -- and we finally got an opportunity to do it. And how can you say that that was not necessary?

PAUL: Well -- well, we don't know. We don't have all the information. And they have helped us. We have evidence that they have helped us --

MACCALLUM: All right.

PAUL: -- in the past. And who knows, they may well have done it again. But we don't know all the details. You know, the details are always changing. So to be a strict analyst and say, you know, exactly what should have been done -- I suggested it could have been done differently. What would have been wrong with talking to him? We have captured many others. Shaikh Mohammed, the ringleader there who did all the planning, we have him in jail and we quiz him and we get information from him. What would be so terrible?

All the Nazi individuals who were responsible for the Holocaust, we walk in and gun them down as soon as we found them. We captured them. We tried them. We hung them.


PAUL: And what is so terrible about that and talking to people? Now -- we know that all the Nazis were killed because we captured them. Now there's nothing more than raising questions. I wonder when bin Laden was killed and was he really killed and (INAUDIBLE) him off. We don't see this --

MACCALLUM: All right. I understand --


PAUL: -- uncertainties that I don't know.

MACCALLUM: I think it's probably going to be a very interesting debate question when that comes up, you know, that you're going to be presented with. So we'll see, you know, how that plays out when you're up against the other contenders here.

Talking about other contenders -- Donald Trump -- you've had a lot of verbal run-ins with him. You know, he has said that he would not consider running -- well, probably wouldn't consider running as an independent because he doesn't want to hurt the Republican Party. How about you? What do you think about him? And would you consider a Tea Party or a libertarian or an independent run in this race?

PAUL: No, I think our system here won't permit it. We have a very biased system that's very undemocratic. The two parties are very close together. We should have other alternatives. We're allowed to have them. But the rules are so biased, you can't get on ballots and you can't get in debates. So therefore, you're excluded unless you're a billionaire.

And yet we go around the world saying that we're going to spread our goodness and democracy. We invade countries, demand elections, and then when the elections don't come out like we want, then we won't honor the elections. So our system here is very biased. And I think that I encourage everybody to do what they want on third parties and encourage them, and maybe someday, the rules will get better. But today it is very, very difficult to achieve any political victory.