Dec. Ron Paul - Meet the Press | NBC News
Transcript of the Dec. 23, broadcast of NBC's 'Meet the Press,' featuring Ron Paul, John Harwood and Chuck Todd. Meet the Press transcript for October 23, this morning, our Meet the Candidates series continues with Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Ron Mott, Secy. of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joy-Ann Reid, David Brooks, Danielle Pletka, Charlie Sykes.
But the door's open a little bit. We haven't even had a race, we have February 5th coming up. We have a campaign to run.
Why--do you ask all the other--how many other candidates have you asked, "Are you going to run as a third party candidate if you don't win? Well, if someone has a history of running as a third party candidate, sure.
You ran in '88 as a Libertarian. Yeah, well, I know It's a logical question. So I--ask them, too. Before you go, Mike Huckabee, Republican candidate for president, ran this commercial for Christmas and many thought that the shelf in the back looked like a cross.
You were asked about it on CNN and this is what you said. It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once says. He said when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.
What does that mean? Fascism or the definition of fascism? Do you believe that Mike Huckabee is Oh, I didn't say that. I said it reminded me--as a matter of fact they caught me completely cold on that.
I had not seen the ad, and they just said there was a cross there. And, you know, it was an instantaneous reflex because I knew of Sinclair Lewis about being cautious, because, you know, I--what prompts this is things like the Patriot Act. Let me go back If you're not a patriot But let me go back to this ad. You do not believe that Mike Huckabee, that ad commercial represents the potential of fascism in the form of a cross.
But I think this country, a movement in the last years, is moving toward fascism. Fascism today, the softer term, because people have different definition of fascism, is corporatism when the military industrial complex runs the show, when the--in the name of security pay--pass the Patriot Act. You don't vote for it, you know, you're not patriotic America.
If you don't support the troops and you don't support--if you don't support the war you don't support the troops. It's that kind of antagonism. But we have more corporatism and more abuse of our civil liberties, more loss of our privacy, national ID cards, all this stuff coming has a fascist tone to it. And the country's moving in that direction. That's what I'm thinking about. This was not personalized. I never even used my opponents names if you, if you notice. So you think we're close to fascism?
I think we're approaching it very close. One--there's one, there's one documentary that's been put out recently that has generated a lot of interest called "Freedom to Fascism. Were not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we're moving toward a softer fascism. Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business.
So you have the military industrial complex, you have the medical industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That's where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism, something that is very dangerous. For the record, the Sinclair Lewis Society said that Mr. Lewis never uttered that quote. But others refuted that and put them down and said that--and they found the exact quote where it came from.
Ron Paul, be safe on the campaign trail. Thanks for sharing your views. Nice to be here. As part of our Meet the Candidates series, we've invited candidates for president to appear here for in-depth interviews.
In addition, Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, he'll be right here to talk about his campaign. We're also archiving the transcripts and videos of the entire series on our Web site, mtp. Coming next, the very latest polls, strategies and commercials. We have just 11 days to go to the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, 16 days to New Hampshire primary on January 8th.
The very latest from Iowa and New Hampshire. Our political roundtable--John Harwood, Chuck Todd--after this station break. Let's go right to the polling numbers. The national numbers, look at that. Rudy Giuliani is now at 20, down 13 points in a month. Giuliani, what caused the decline? But let's go to the states, because this is what really counts.
Huckabee is ahead in both polls, 33 to 25 over Romney, 35 to 27 in other, the rest of the lineup there. Let's go to New Hampshire, some new numbers out today. Three points between McCain and Romney. An earlier poll had it a 7 point race. Chuck Todd, what does it all tell you? Well, there's no Republican front-runner, and until we find out how badly Mitt Romney wins--loses Iowa, and I think that that's the assumption they're under at this point, that, that they're You called it already?
They know that--they're worried they're going to lose Iowa, but they're trying to close the gap. They're trying to close this gap so that they look like they at least have a running start to salvage New Hampshire.
Because their bigger fear right now, the Romney people are absolutely petrified of John McCain. He is on the rise. He's done if he loses both of those. What they're hoping, as Chuck said, is that they either win--and I wouldn't, given how unpredictable this race is, I wouldn't rule out Romney and his organization pulling out a victory, but if he doesn't win, he needs to be strong in New Hampshire.
If he loses both of those back to back to Huckabee and McCain, he's got big problems. A--what Mitt Romney--there're several articles written about his talking about seeing his father marching with Martin Luther King in, in the '60s. Let's watch what he said earlier this month. Videotape, December 8, MR. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. End videotape Videotape, last Sunday MR. But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at our, at our lives.
My dad marched with Martin Luther King. And then on Thursday, he sought to clarify what he really intended to say. Advertise Videotape, Thursday MR. If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes 'being aware of' in the sense I've described.
It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. I did not see with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in the great effort. Tim, I think, if you look at the way Mitt Romney's run his campaign, there's plenty to criticize. Those of us old enough to remember "Leave It to Beaver" sometimes see Eddie Haskell in Mitt Romney going to every constituency group and saying, "You look so lovely, Mrs. I don't think it's a big deal. I actually think this has turned into a little bit of a big deal.
The blogs are nuts on it, the conservative blogs, because it's not that this is the first time he's done something like this. The problem is, is that it feeds into this idea that he will say and--say anything it takes to win over a constituency group. The Eddie Haskell thing, that's a--that, that cracked me up because you do have that feeling.
He will say anything it takes to be liked, and that Martin Luther King thing. And the fact is, it's been a real distraction. Before it, you know, midweek last week, he stopped the bleeding in Iowa, he's being, you know, looked like he was finally starting, you know, Huckabee was getting on the defensive, and then he had to spend 48 hours dealing with this story.
Luckily for him, there's so many other things distracting all the political press, but this was one of those things, I don't know if it goes away. Ask Al Gore what it's like when suddenly every word, it happens to get parsed. Mitt Romney is not been good when the pressure's been on and the spotlight's been on.
And that's one of those moments. I agree it's become a political problem. My point is on the substance, when he says "What I meant was, I was aware of it," that doesn't seem to me to be an unreasonable explanation. I mean, that was the problem is that there are many issues with it. It may be that his father never even marched with him.
But he was a crusader. Absolutely, and nobody wants to take that away from his father. But I will say, Tim, you got to wonder how George Romney would feel about watching Mitt Romney in one of those debates a few days ago, criticizing Rudy Giuliani for saying that New York City was welcoming to illegal immigrants.
Mitt Romney, for the reason that Chuck mentioned, is sort of taken and run with that immigration issue. George Romney might not like it. So all those independents in New Hampshire five days later would say, "You know what? I'm not going to play the Democratic primary, let me go in the Republican primary and find John McCain.
Here's the latest national poll. Shows Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead 45, 23, But when you go to the states it's a much different story. One, Clinton is up 30, 28, 26; the other it's Obama, 33; Clinton, 29; Edwards is at But the Gallup poll had it tied 32, 32, Edwards, South Carolina, this is the poll.
Obama, 35; Clinton, 35; Edwards, And look at the breakdown now. Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead with whites, Obama's third. Blacks, who make up half the South Carolina Democratic primary, vote he's now comfortably ahead. What does that tell you, Chuck Todd? The Obama folks, and the Clinton folks right now will tell you that the one candidate they're worried about is John Edwards in Iowa as far as this point.
And I think it's interesting that when you have both camps saying they're both worried about this same guy, it tells you something's going on. And this is what's so wild about Iowa compared to the other two states. The other two states are two-person races.
It's a true three-way. If anything, you get the sense that actually Obama and Edwards are now suddenly fighting it out for first and second, and Clinton is almost standing back saying, "OK, I'm going to go on this, I'm going to go on this final tour of Iowa and say it's time to choose a president.
Let them fight it out. And, and by the way, she also doesn't want to lose to Obama. I mean, one of the things that--they don't mind second place, but they certainly--you know, it's sort of like option one is winning. Option two is fin Does he have the resources? I think--I don't know if he has the resources after South Carolina. I think the fact is he's not--he's not as far back in New Hampshire as he was four years ago when he couldn't get the bounce. I think he can do, do the bounce. But the problem they've got is, if it's a three-way--what if it's ?
And, and Clinton's a 30 and, and Edwards is a Is that a victory? It's probably not a victory at that point, and then you sort of move on and that's where Edwards could get lost. I think he--if he wins Iowa, he needs a little bit of pad between first and second. If Obama wins Iowa, John Harwood, what happens? Well, if Obama wins Iowa, he's got a rocket going in to New Hampshire, and we've seen from this Globe poll that he's in a very strong position.
He will be hard to stop if he wins the Iowa caucuses. But it's so interesting the games that people are playing and the positioning. The--Hillary Clinton would much rather lose to Edwards than Obama. John Edwards has got to beat Obama in Iowa to make himself viable. So everybody's got an angle to play. Electability is such a big issue for the candidates, saying "I'm the one who can go into November and win this election for the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton, the same poll, her positives 42, her negatives When you go head-to-head, Clinton beats Giuliani 46, 43; Obama, he wins to They get the same Democratic vote, but Obama does better with Republicans and he wins independents.
Clinton loses Republicans over Do voters care about this? Sure they care about it. And they're going to be making assessments of these candidates all through the year, and the electability argument is something that's got some juice for Obama. Let me tell you a story.
I was with an old school friend recently. Classic Reagan Democrat, works in the auto body business, had a copy of the Lou Dobbs book, "War on the Middle Class" on his kitchen table. I'm sick of the Republicans.
Meet the Press - Wikipedia
How they decide this could impact what's going to happen in the general election. The campaign between Clinton and Obama's gotten a bit testy. It's the first time this election cycle a presidential campaign has launched a Web site with the express purpose of launching serious criticisms on a rival. We'll put it on the screen here and share it.
Even better, the head of that union is not for a healthcare mandate, Jerry McEntee. Which is what Clinton's for. So it really is sort of--you want to talk why Iowa is three-dimensional chess, it is the ultimate--I think it's more five-dimensional chess, if there's such a thing. But it is--look, you want to have Edwards and Obama look like they're muddying each other up. Yesterday they had this big spat over third party groups. Clinton, at this point, is now hoping to play what John--the role John Edwards was playing two weeks ago, which was, "Well, I'm standing on the sidelines just trying to talk about being president.
Let these two kids fight in the schoolyard. Quick note, though, on these third party groups. In the last--we're now 11 days? That is a stunning thing, because you have this new third party funded by the SEIU, and it is now spending more on TV advertising, frankly, than even John Edwards.
Is he denying that he knows anything about it? He is denying that he knows anything about it. They're campaign is officially saying please stop.
But of course, you know How can a crusader against special interest money be helped by special interest money buying TV commercials that assist his candidacy? Well, which is what Obama criticized him for yesterday. And Edwards did feel on the defensive as the day went on.
Reporters beat him up over this, because he, insaid that George Bush could have stood up to the swift boat guys and could have said, "Stop doing these ads. Tim, this is part of, this is part of our system in the post McCain-Feingold world. It's baked into the cake for every candidate, both political parties.
Do you think the drone war that this administration is waging is illegal? It's illegal under international law. And there's no authority in our Constitution that we can just willy-nilly drop bombs on anybody that we want.
We kill innocent people this way. Why do you think people hate us? Because there's so much collateral damage. You see, "Oh, this is a bad guy. We'll drop a bomb on him and kill him. We might miss him. We might hit another car, and then you kill 10 other people. What would we do if they did that to us, David? We, we would be a little upset if China did that to us, wouldn't we? You said in that the, the prospect of Iran attacking Israel was like the prospect that it would invade Mars.
I didn't use those words, but essentially that might be the No, you actually did. I looked at the transcript, yeah. And the reality is that the biggest existential threat that Israel faces is from Iran. I--they wouldn't, they wouldn't need to. Israel has nuclear weapons and missiles. The odds are so remote. Iran can't even make enough gasoline for themselves.
They have to import gasoline. So they don't have intercontinental ballistic missiles. They, they don't have a nuclear weapon. There's a big discussion going on on how far along they are. And I was in the service, and lived through the '60s. The Soviets had 30, of them, and they were going to bury us, and we survived that. So for us to plan to go to war against Iran under these conditions scares a lot of Americans. It certainly scares the young people of the world, the people I talk to, because they're going to bear this burden financially, and also they may be required to fight these wars Let me, let me ask you about the role of government.
You've said about taxation, in a way that doesn't minces words, the following: Would you scrap the tax code altogether? That would be a pretty good idea, a pretty good start.
I, I can qualify it if I'm allowed. Taxation is theft when you take money from one group to give it to, to another, when you, when you transfer the wealth. Now, taxation could be accomplished with user fees and, you know, highway fees and gasoline taxes and import taxes.
But the income tax is based on the assumption that the government owns you, owns all of your income and provides the conditions on which they allow you to keep a certain percentage. That, to me, is immoral, and the founders didn't like it. That's why the Constitution had to be amended in Social Security, you talk in your plan about allowing young people to opt out. I, I think it--there is a much better chance that it would be solvent.
It's totally insolvent now. But my plan explicitly protects the elderly and the sick in the transition to be taken care of. The young get out, but the only way we can guarantee that the elderly will be taken care of is cutting spending.
That's why offer a trillion dollars. So the elderly now are reassured. He's not going to waste all this money overseas and all this foreign aid and expenses. But you--so you cut benefits? Eventually, would you have to do that? Not, not if you If young people are opting out and not paying in.
I would balance--I would balance the budget. There would be no inflation, no reason for increase in cost of living increase. And, in time, I think you could raise this age. Mine was 25 and under, but it should--the only complaint I've gotten so far is somebody came up to me and says, "I'm Why don't you let me get out?
Let me, let me And, and I think that's what the move will be because they want to--people want to assume responsibility for themselves. Let me ask you about politics in this primary fight.
You said you were disgusted by some of the debates that you've been engaged in now. What's turned you off? Well, I guess it's the uselessness of some of this rhetoric. I mean, arguing over who mows Mitt Romney's lawn? I mean, in the midst of a crisis, a sovereign debt worldwide crisis, the biggest in the history of the world, and the financial system of the world is about to collapse?
We're about to have another devaluation of our--not our currency, but our credit rating? And no control on the spending? I mean, we're going to have to get a handle on this.
We have to quit worrying about who's mowing Mitt Romney's yard. You wrote, you wrote in your book "Liberty Defined" about the fact that politics doesn't really offer a lot of choices. This is what you said, "When it comes to any significant differences on foreign policy, economic intervention, the Federal Reserve, a strong executive branch, a welfarism mixed with corporatism, both parties are very much alike.
The major arguments in hotly contested presidential races are mostly for public consumption to convince the people they actually have a choice. Well, you could probably figure out some choices, but you have to figure out which position that we're looking at with Mitt Romney.
You know, it changes. But my point is, would there be a change in foreign policy? No, there would not. Would either one of them work on a true audit of the Fed and a change in monetary policy that the Federal Reserve can't monetize debt? Would they address the entitlement system? Would they ever address, either one, that we should have concern about our debt and cut something like a trillion dollars because we're on the road to fiscal insanity and a breakdown of the world financial market?
There would not be a significant difference between the two, although on the edges, maybe. I think Mitt Romney now is probably very sincere about his right to life issue.
And probably on the tax issues there would be some differences, but the big issues, the big policies, regardless, I mean, Obama was elected as a peace candidate and he expanded the war. And he goes into war without any congressional approval. I mean, when, when the Republicans get in, and they're against, you know, regulations, they give you No Child Left Behind, prescription drug programs, and Sarbanes-Oxley.
The regulatory system, the spending, the deficits, the printing of money, they stay the same. And that's what the streets are telling us. Whether it's the occupiers or whether it's the tea party people, they're saying, "Enough is enough. Paul, we'll leave it there. And coming up, President Obama comes under fire from Republicans criticizing his decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.
This after the president scored a foreign policy victory with the death of Libya's defiant dictator Moammar Khaddafy. Do the two events this week signal a shift in U. Plus, the jobs crisis. What will it take to get America working again? Our political roundtable weighs in. Our roundtable coming up after this break. And we're back with our roundtable discussion. Welcome to all of you. Jack, great to have you here for the first time. Let's talk about foreign policy, Andrea Mitchell.
The president in his weekly radio address tried to frame the events of this week in a way that really went to this leadership moment for him. This is what he said.
This week we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world. I was proud to announce that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year.
And in Libya, the death of Moammar Khaddafy showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people and helping them break free from a tyrant was the right thing to do. Is this a big moment for him and does it last? It's a big moment. Whether it lasts is another question. I don't think he's vulnerable on Libya because that could dissolve into tribal warfare, civil war.
We've seen human rights abuses already. So there's no civil society. There's no justice system. But they--it's very hard to blame Barack Obama for that. People will credit him for an in--relatively inexpensive military engagement. And leading from behind turned out to be really smart. On Iraq, I think there are pitfalls ahead.
He is correct that this was George Bush's timetable to get out. This was an agreement signed with the Iraqis. He can be criticized for failing to negotiate an extension, which the military did want.
But, at the same time, if everything goes well in Iraq, I think this is a victory and it's certainly appealing to the Democratic base.
The problem will be if civil war erupts. Then we cannot re-engage. We can't resupply and get back in. Jack Welch, as you well know, presidents can really affect foreign policy. Those are where the leadership moments are made. He can't do a whole lot about the economy right now, but he can certainly make a case about leadership around the world.
But does it carry on into a campaign? Oh, of course it does. I mean, if he has success in this Iraq pullback, it will very helpful to him. But I do think presidents can do something economies. And I don't buy that they can only do foreign policy. This isn't lasting, David, though, if you think about what's really driving voters' concerns.
We saw this with the first President Bush. You know, he won in Iraq, at that point, and that's not what the campaign was about. I guess I still mostly think that, but not entirely. You know, the Middle East just doesn't go away. I had a briefing from a senior military person saying Iran is really no holds barred on the Iraq--on the Irani nuclear program.
They're still a very aggressive regime. So I happen to think that there'll be some crisis before the next year, some talk that the nuclear program may end up producing something by the next election.
So I happen to think foreign policy will be much bigger than we think it is. It's interesting, Harold Ford, I mean the, the, the, the allusion I made to in the question to Secretary Clinton about Republicans and their positioning on foreign policy. There's an isolationist streak in the Republican Party right now.
And, frankly, in these debates there have been moments where Republicans have not come up very strong on foreign policy acumen. It seeds the ground, it appears to me, to a Democratic president to say, "I'm the foreign policy leader here. He has been not only more effective, more assertive, and more forceful, I think, than even his chief primary opponent and now his secretary of State thought he would be, thought he would be.
He's been more assertive and successful than Democrats, Republicans in the House and Senate thought he would be. But I differ with, with David just a bit. I think all those successes we bragged about during the campaign, and rightly so. But, at the end of the day, the plight of the American family in the Midwest and the Southwest and Northeast, across the country, at the end of the day, that will determine whether or not he's re-elected. These issues here, don't get me wrong, solidify him as commander in chief.
But Americans are looking for an economic commander in chief as well, and that will be the central challenge. Well, let--well, let's talk about the Republican debate and the debate this week, another big one. And here's just a flavor of how personally nasty it got. Rick, I don't think I've ever hired an illegal in my life, and so I'm, I'm looking forward to finding your facts on that because that just doesn't I'll tell you what the facts are.
It's time for you to tell the truth. You get 30, you get 30 seconds. Time for you to tell the truth, Mitt. This is the way, the way rules work here is that I get 60 seconds Well, no, but the American people want the truth. And they want to hear you say Would you please, would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking? Or are you going to let me finish with my--what I have to say? I thought Republicans followed the rules, what Just watching I start to perspire. Jack, what have we learned after these debates?
Do you think Republican primary voters are closer to making up their minds? Well, I think they're, they're moving towards a candidate, but these squabbles that occur during these debates, they occurred in the Democratic debates before, now the--when Obama and Clinton were going at it. These things will be lost in the rounds. I agree with Harold that how the American family is doing next fall will determine a lot more than that squabble that went on there.
But at the same time, 20 million people have watched these debates already. It's an extraordinary number. And I think that people are so intensely focused, precisely for the reasons that Jack and Harold have been talking about, the income disparities and the suffering, the, the economic pain that people are feeling, and they're looking for leadership.
‘Meet the Press’ transcript for Dec. 23, 2007
And the question then becomes which of these Republicans in that kind of squabbling match are showing that kind of leadership? Yeah, I think the debates have been consequential because they've shown what we've got here. It's not a primary process. With a primary process, you have several plausible candidates and they go after each other.
Meet the Press transcript for October 23, 2011
We don't have that. We have one plausible candidate and a bunch of other guys who are prepping him for the Obama onslaught. And so, basically, they attack him. We thought Perry was plausible, turned out so far not to be.
So they're attacking him, attacking him, getting him ready for what Obama's going to unleash on him. And so I'm grading it on how well is he doing it? And I think he--I give him like a B-minus.
Because there are two things that he has to really get ready for: And, and he hasn't really solved either of those two problems. You know, there was--This Week magazine had an interesting cover that, that caught our attention, and we'll put it on the screen here. It's "Still not in love," and it's about Mitt Romney's search for love on, on the right among conservatives.
So Herman Cain has caught fire, a lot of talk about the economy and taxes. And, of course, Jack Welch, we rely on you principally for insightful commentary on Twitter. His no BS clarity is so refreshing. Well, he's, he's created a spark here, no question.