OTR Interviews

If Ron Paul was president today ...

Greta grills GOP presidential candidate on hot topics facing U.S. domestically and abroad


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And now congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul, joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. RON PAUL, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening. Nice to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you, sir. OK, let me give you a -- not so much a hypothetical, but a fact pattern. Assume tonight you're the President of the United States and we have the following problems. In Syria, we have just closed down our embassy and there is a massacre by the Syrian government against its people.

Number two, that Israel is talking about perhaps the next two months taking some sort of action against Iran. And three, Egypt is holding 19 -- or holding a number of Americans, maybe trying 19 Americans.

What are you going to be doing about all three of those problems tonight?

PAUL: So you create problems over 40 years, and I have three minutes to solve all those problems? No, I think it's our intervention over there that gets us into all this trouble, and we ought to be minding our business. We shouldn't be fighting wars that are undeclared. And if we...

VAN SUSTEREN: But we're already there.

PAUL: ... want to get involved -- well, let me finish.

VAN SUSTEREN: But we're -- all right.

PAUL: I know. We shouldn't be. And that's why -- you know, this is why the greatest -- the best issue for me to get enthusiasm from young people and the people who care about what I'm doing, it's when I say, Let's quit spending all our money overseas. We're going broke.

In the last 10 years, we spent $4 trillion worth of debt fighting these wars. And all my argument is, declare the wars. If you want to go to war, declare the wars, fight them, win them, and come home, like we did in World War II.

But to do endless wars, undeclared -- go into Syria now? Where do they get the authority? Obama went into Libya, and he'll probably go into Iran. The American people aren't ready for more wars. Besides, we can't afford it. So if we continue to do this, this will just drive us into bankruptcy.

And quite frankly, this idea of giving me a little bit of credit about wanting to cut, but nobody will cut one nickel out of this militarism. And you have to cut -- not one Republican, not one Democrat in all of Washington, all the candidates, are cutting anything. They're always just cutting a little bit of the proposed increases. And you have to cut. And right now, there's nobody willing to.

And that's why we're going to go off a cliff. We're going to have an economic crisis a lot worse than four years ago, and it's going to involve too much entitlement spending and too much foreign adventurism trying to maintain an empire that we no longer can afford.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think there's anybody in this country is going to deny that you've been talking about cuts and that you're the most probably fiscal conservative of the four. I don't think anybody -- but the question I'm sort of curious about, and what I got -- you would say no to going into Syria. I don't know that anyone's even suggesting going into Syria. But these are really hotspots...

PAUL: No, we're already there!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, to the extent we are, so...

PAUL: As you said, we're already there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you say, Come home? Do you say, Don't have anything to do with the -- with the -- with trying to get some sort of even diplomatic solution to Syria? Do you do that? Do you say anything to Egypt tonight about, Send those Americans home? Do you get involved with that? Do you have conversations with Egypt? I'm sort of just trying to understand what you'd be doing tonight...

PAUL: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... with problems we already have.

PAUL: Sure. You follow diplomacy. Kennedy did that with Khrushchev at the height of the cold war when they were in Cuba. So no, yes, you definitely do talk to people.

But I'm looking at the foolhardiness of what we've been doing for 30 or 40 years. How many billions, tens, probably $40 billion to $5 billion dollars we gave Egypt. Finally, the people got restless with the dictator we had propped up there.

Now we have a government in Egypt that's anti-Israel. It doesn't help us. It bankrupts us, and it hurts Israel. And now the conditions are breaking down in that area. And now we're saying, Well, we're going to put sanctions on Iran. Who's it going to hurt? Eastern Europe, our allies that we put into NATO, as well as Turkey.

And it makes no sense whatsoever to think that we can continue to do this, spend this money, get involved -- George Bush in 1970 ran on a program of a humble foreign policy, no nation building and don't be the policemen of the world. And the Republicans elected him. The country loved him. But now I talk about it, and you think, Oh, he's un-American! All I'm doing is talking about what George Bush talked about in the year 2000, what the Founders talked about and what the Constitution authorizes for us.

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and I think that's sort of looking at sort of, like, how we got there or our problems. I'm trying to think how we get out of our problems and what do we do with the existing problems we have.

Are you saying -- and tell me if I'm wrong -- that the sanctions that President Obama just signed an executive order yesterday -- but the sanctions in -- against Iran is not something that you would endorse or encourage because of the financial ramifications.

PAUL: Absolutely not. I voted against them and I think they're terrible. I think it's going to hurt the people who are trying to overthrow Ahmadinejad. People, when they're attacked from the outside and made to hurt, they become more nationalistic. He -- he'd -- just think of 40 years of sanctions against Cuba. It's all backfired on us.

And it's -- and the people who don't like my foreign policy -- Oh, he's an isolationist. People who put on sanctions are the isolationists! They don't want to talk...

VAN SUSTEREN: What would you do about Iran?

PAUL: ... to people...

VAN SUSTEREN: What would you do about Iran and their quest for a nuclear weapon, anything at all?

PAUL: I'd quit trying to overthrow their government. We've been doing that since 1953, and they don't like us for it. And I think what we should do is let Israel deal with it. They have hundreds of nuclear missiles. They took care of Iraq's nuclear power plant back in the '80s. I defended them for it.

But to restrain Israel and take over their sovereignty by giving them money, then they can't defend their borders and they can't develop their peace treaties -- so we're really hurting Israel inadvertently, of course, by doing this.

But even Israel, the head of the Mossad, said even if Iran gets a nuclear missile, it's not an existential threat to Israel. And there's a lot of discussion going on in Israel. This idea that we have to automatically go to war and start a war against Iran -- it's crazy!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

PAUL: I mean, this is foolish.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to...

PAUL: We're broke! We're broke. So a war with Iran makes no sense whatsoever, and that is what's coming if we don't change our ways.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know this is a horrible thing to give you a minute to answer a serious question. but what would you do about the 19 Americans who are facing trial in Egypt, what -- if anything?

PAUL: I would have done it a long time ago. I wouldn't have propped up a dictator and then encouraged the overthrow -- no, you got to -- you got to work diplomatically and try to get them out of there the best you can. We have some responsibilities. But there's going to be lot more of that because this is a consequence of a flawed policy and reaction to us. It's blowback, and our people suffer the consequences from it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it -- I sort of think it's sort of, like, you know, hard to sort of back out of situations too abruptly, but -- in terms of -- you know, our foreign policy, do we ease out of it, or do we just one day all of a sudden wake up and back of it, according to you?

PAUL: That's the way we went in, we just marched in for no good reason to all these countries. We ought to just march home because we're not -- it's not a legitimate war, and we don't have the money. And the longer we're there, the more people die, the more Americans die and the more bankruptcy we have. We're not serving any purpose. And therefore, the sooner we get out, the better. The world would be better off. Our Americans would be better off. The military would be better off.

Why am I getting twice as much donations than the president gets? I get six times as much from the military as all the other Republicans put together. That ought to send a message to people. Why does the military support Ron Paul? Because I have a sensible foreign policy and they're on the front line. They're dying, and they don't even know what they're dying for.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir. And I hope you'll come back. There are so many interesting issues to talk about in this race. I hope you'll come back, sir.

PAUL: Thank you.