Voters who are hoping for a more bipartisan approach to problem solving in Washington, D.C. might not like what they hear from Congressman Ron Paul.
“I’m not a fan of bipartisanship,” the Texas Republican and 2008 candidate for this party’s presidential nomination said during a radio interview in Concord, N.H., Friday. “I think we have too much bipartisanship.” Paul named his favorite target, the Federal Reserve Board, along with the welfare state and what he regards as a hyperactive interventionist foreign policy as products of bipartisan cooperation. At the same time, Paul has consistently parted company with a majority of his Republican colleagues in the U.S. House on issues ranging from war to civil liberties and domestic security issues.
“I’ve always been one who’s more interested in political philosophy than partisan politics,” he said.
Though he insisted throughout his visit to the state that holds the nation’s first presidential primary every four years that he has not decided about run for the White House in 2012, the veteran congressman said his mission and his message have not changed since he ran in ’08 or his earlier run as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1988.
“For me it’s always been the same simple goal, to spread the message of liberty,” he said. On Thursday the libertarian Republican addressed a standing room only crowd of more than 550 people at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The crowd included some elderly and middle-aged fans, as well as a strong contingent of collegians, an age group that was heavily represented among Paul’s 2008 supporters.
“Where there really is hope is when you’re talking to young people,” Paul said during the live interview with Concord station WKXL FM on location at the Barley House, a popular Main Street restaurant across from the State House. Young people, he said, are starting to think seriously about some of the issues he has been raising during his more than 30 years in Congress.
“They say, ‘We like what you’re saying about the Constitution and limiting government,'” Paul said. Young people have even shown up at his office asking for copies of the Constitution. The congressman is only too happy to oblige and wishes his colleagues on Capitol Hill showed the same interest in the founding document. He said he tells the young people, “I might as well give it to you, nobody here is reading it.”
As he has done in interviews on Fox News, Cable News Network, and other media interviews, Paul criticized President Obama for joining a military intervention in creating and enforcing a “no fly zone” in Libya, where strongman Muammar Gaddafi has been battling rebel forces in various parts of the country. Though the action has been called a “humanitarian intervention” to stop Gaddafi from bombing and strafing civilians, Paul voiced his opposition to “a humanitarian intervention with bombs and bullets and guns.” He also criticized Obama for taking the military action without asking for a declaration of war or even consulting with Congress.
“You need a declaration of war when you are making orders to establish a no-fly zone,” he said, adding that the United Nations treaty and a vote by the UN Security Council do not obviate the power of Congress to declare war, as specified in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. That provision may no more be overridden by a treaty or a UN vote than the First Amendment may, he said. Strictly on a practical, dollar and cents basis, he said, “We can’t afford another war.” With an annual deficit approaching $2 trillion and a $14 trillion national debt, Paul said, “I don’t know if there’s anything that should be off the table” for spending cuts.
Both at his appearance at the University and in a Friday morning interview on New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord, Paul noted the inconsistency of Republicans in Congress who are enthusiastic about cutting a few million dollars from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but are unwilling to tackle hundreds of billions in military spending. Congress needs to address America’s “trillion-dollar empire,” Paul said, and “change our foreign policy. Bring our troops home.” America’s war in Afghanistan, now nearly 10 years old, is among the foreign military commitments that are sapping America’s military strength and threatening to take the United States down the same road to economic collapse that Russia traveled after fighting for more than a decade in Afghanistan.
“When it gets really bad, the country has to decide what the role of government should be,” he said. “Russia had to do that and they decided to give up their empire.”
In all his New Hampshire appearances, the 75-year-old Paul said he hadn’t made up his mind about running for President next year. His son, Rand Paul, a Republican elected as U.S. Senator from Kentucky just last year, has suggested he might run if his father doesn’t. There is a 50-50 chance “a Paul” will be in the race, the younger Paul has said.
When Ron Paul was asked in New Hampshire if he thought there was a good chance one or the other would be in the race, he said, “Yes. And there’s also a good chance neither of us will run.” He really hadn’t made up his mind, he said, adding that his inclination to run or not run at this point “depends of the time of day.”
“Maybe it depends on how this interview goes,” one member of the radio panel, suggested.
“Yes,” Paul chuckled “if you’re too hard on me, I might say I can’t handle it.”
Paul’s stand against intervening in foreign wars has often put him at odds with the more hawkish of his fellow Republicans, and his opposition to the Libyan intervention is no exception. Some of the neoconservative “hawks” have lately taken a more friendly view toward France since French President Nicolas Sarkozy led the campaign for NATO’s intervention in Libya. After his radio interview, Paul was asked by a reporter at the Barley House if he had heard whom Colonel Oliver North had declared the new leader of the free world.
“I’m afraid to ask,” he said. When told it was Sarkozy, Paul grinned broadly. “Give me DeGaulle!” he quipped.
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