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Paul: Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has a resolution he’s introducing, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, saying that the president can’t go into Iran and spread this war without permission of Congress. I don’t know the total number of supporters, but we had a real nice bipartisan group, seven or eight members of Congress, split between Republicans and Democrats. I thought it went well. [The resolution has 12 co-sponsors.]
I think the feeling [on the Hill] is getting more against the war every day. Republicans have generally benefited from being on the other side of war issues, and lately we’ve been pressured into supporting pre-emptive war, and it has hurt us politically. The Old Right position was [antiwar] and through the 20th century conservatives in the Republican Party have generally been trying to keep us out of war, and we’ve generally benefited by this. Eisenhower was elected to end the Korean War. Nixon was supposed to end the Vietnam War and in 2000 Bush ran on a policy of “no nation building” and not being the policeman of the world. He criticized Clinton on Somalia. It’s a strong tradition for Republicans to be on the side of avoiding military conflicts. Democrats have generally been the international instigators.
Reason: One of the Internet rumors is linking you with Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) in a possible joint run…
Paul: Tancredo? No. We’ve never talked about anything like that.
Reason: And another rumor is that the GOP run could be a lead-in to some sort of third party run…
Paul: A third party run? No.
Reason: Have you noticed any differences about being in the minority party in Congress again? Will that affect you?
Paul: Well, the Republican Party leaders are acting in a very defensive manner--which they’ve earned! It probably doesn’t change what I do very much. I’m just as likely to get Democratic support in things I want to do as from Republicans. Republicans were too determined to support the president rather than thinking things through and standing up to his requests to expand government internationally or to expand entitlement program at home. They’ve just gone along here.
Reason: Do you think the losing Congress will liberate more Republicans to revolt against the administration?
Paul: That’s the other Republican politicians’ dilemma: They don’t want to annoy some Republican voters, but at the same time realize that it’s not very popular to have to defend the war. When you see someone like Brownback [R-Kan.] scurrying away from the war….there’s a big change in attitude [in the GOP] and Republicans are starting to remember where they came from and that they don’t have to be supporters of war. I think a year from now there will be a lot more Republican antiwar people around.
Reason: Do you expect the Democrats to do anything substantive to stop the war?
Paul: I think we’ll see more rhetoric than a real desire to do [something specific]. We’ll see hiding behind just saying that “we don’t like this, Bush made a mess, but we can’t cut the money because then we won’t be supporting the troops.” I think that’s a cop out. There’s plenty of money to take care of the troops, billions of dollars in piles.
Reason: What did you think of Sen. Joe Biden’s declaration that there’s really nothing Congress can do to stop the war?
Paul: I think Biden is absolutely wrong. The Constitution gives more responsibility to Congress in dealing with foreign policy than to the executive. The only thing the president can do is be commander in chief after being given directions to pursue. If we had followed the rules he wouldn’t have been able to do a thing, with no declaration of war. How can the commander in chief fight a war that hasn’t been declared? If Congress had not been so complacent in its responsibilities….The war in Vietnam finally ended by definancing, but tragically after 60,000 Americans died. Congress has lots of responsibility, for defining policy, raising an army, buying equipment, the whole works. For Biden to say that–that’s avoiding the responsibility of doing what we can do.