George Stephanopoulos Hits Ron Paul on Flooding and bin Laden, Ignores Taxes and Debt Limit

Given the issues Ron Paul speaks out on, it seems likely that subjects such as raising the debt ceiling or taxes would come up as questions for an interview. However, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos didn't ask the 2012 Republican presidential candidate a single question on those topics.

Instead, Stephanopoulos pressed Paul on flooding: "Celia from Springfield, Ohio wants to test how just how far your libertarian principles take you. She asks, 'Do you think everyone should just be responsible for themselves and if a flood washes your house away, no FEMA? Sink or swim?"

The host then prompted the Texas Congressman on just why he hasn't bolted the Republican Party: "Why not run as an independent, given your differences with the Republicans on so many issues?" 

Stephanopoulos focused on Paul's questioning the United States' mission against Osama bin laden: "Just yesterday, we showed it in Jon Karl's piece, you came out against the way the president Obama conducted the raid against Osama bin Laden. More than 90 percent of the American public support it. Why are you against it?"

He followed up with two more questions, grilling Paul on this outside the mainstream position. Certainly, this is a topic worthy of discussion. Most Republican primary voters won't be pleased. (Interestingly, Paul's comments seemed to echo those of left-wing director Michael Moore. )

But, considering that the introductory piece referred to the Representative as the "godfather of the Tea Party movement," economic questions would seem standard. 

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman Ron Paul joins us now from New Hampshire. Good morning, Congressman. You ran in 1988. You ran in 2008. Are you running in 2012?

PAUL: I am. Today, and at this moment, I'm officially announcing that I am a candidate for president in the Republican primary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why?

PAUL: Because time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I've been saying for 30 years. So, I think the time is right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well this, is a big step for you, Congressman. Congratulations. As I say at the beginning, you're not afraid to court controversy. You seem to be doing it again right now. Just yesterday, we showed it in Jon Karl's piece, you came out against the way the president Obama conducted the raid against Osama bin Laden. More than 90 percent of the American public support it. Why are you against it?

PAUL: Well, I was talking about the procedure. You know, I endorse the whole idea of going after him. I supported going into Afghanistan. I thought we blew it then. We had him cornered. We let him get loose. And then, we went and invaded Iraq. We spent $1 trillion. We've lost 5,000 American lives. We've killed many, many innocent people. So, the process has been very bad. So, I have no qualms about getting him. I'm delighted he's gone. But the whole thing is, we could have done it differently. And besides-

STEPHANOPOULOS: How could we have done it differently?

PAUL: Ignoring the Pakistani government doesn't help us at all. It looks like we're trying to be more antagonistic towards the Pakistanis. They have helped us in the past catch many terrorists and I don't see any reason we can't do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you would have taken the risk, sir-

PAUL: I think the process is different. If you compare what we did after World War II. Think of the worst Nazis that committed the Holocaust. You know, we arrested them. We tried them and we hung them. I don't know why we have to embark on a whole, new system because the people get riled up. The politicians can rile the people up and after the dust settles, they might say, it could have been another way. And the other thing is, to make a decision on this whole process is a little premature. Every day, we hear a different story about exactly what happened. So, I was asked if I could do it differently. And I said yes. And I think the goals and the results would have been better. But I'm really worried about, you know, building this animosity with the Pakistanis right now. I'm all for cutting the foreign aid. Like, I wouldn't have ever given them any money. But I'm afraid we've already expanded the war into Pakistan. We've been bombing them. At the same time we bomb them, we give them foreign aid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me-

PAUL: So, I think the whole process now is to build up the enemy in Pakistan so we have a massive invasion there and spread the war. Those are concerns I have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn to some issues here at home. Celia from Springfield, Ohio wants to test how just how far your libertarian principles take you. She ask, "Do you think everyone should just be responsible for themselves and if a flood washes your house away, no FEMA? Sink or swim?"

PAUL: Yeah. I think that's how a free society works and that's the way the Constitution mandates. I'm on the Gulf Coast. I have a house on the beach, or had one recently. And I don't think somebody in New York or New Hampshire or Iowa have to pay for my flood on the Gulf Coast.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So, how far would you-

PAUL: No. So, insurance is an old-fashioned way of doing it. Buy insurance. And if the insurance won't sell it to you, it means it's too dangerous. If it's too dangerous, why dump the responsibility on the ta taxpayer? You know, it doesn't make good moral sense. It doesn't make constitutional sense.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon showed in his piece, that you would give states the right to legalize heroin if they wanted to. And you're at odds with your party, the Republicans on so many issues, on foreign policy, on domestic policy, on social policy.  Why not run as an independent, given your differences with the Republicans on so many issues?

PAUL: Well, I would like to qualify a little bit about the drugs. But the question is why don't I run as an independent? Because we don't have true democracy in this country. We lose lives going overseas, spreading our goodness and our great democracy and we orchestrate elections. If we don't like them. We void them. If we don't get the people we support and the people the CIA supports. But, running as an independent here is not possible, unless you're a billionaire like Ross Perot. You don't get on the debates. If I was an independent, George, you would not have me on this program this morning. I

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I'm not sure-

PAUL: I''ve been a Republican for all these years. Elected to Congress. My family was Republican. And I was out of the Republican Party for one year. There's nothing wrong with nudging the Republicans to a true constitutionalism. Stick to their guns on fiscal conservatism.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have a few seconds left. Last time around, you bet me everything I had in my pocket that you would win the presidency. It didn't quite turn out that way. How do you define success this time around, in ten seconds?

PAUL: My success is, I always win. You know? Because I, you know, the victories are one thing. But we win elections when people said we never could win elections. So, I define by doing very well, I believe right now, we're coming in number one in the Republican primary is an absolute possibility. Many, many times better than it was four years ago. Our troops, our supporters, the grassroots are enthusiastic. More so where I was impressed before. I'm super impressed with the enthusiasm we're getting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Well, good luck, Congressman.
 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org