The 2008 Presidential race is shaping up with two real "wild cards," with an emphasis on wild. On the Democratic side is former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel (gruh-VELL) (D–AK — wait! a Democrat from Alaska??), and for the Republicans there is Congressman Ron Paul (R–TX). Gravel made an appearance in the "Moment of Zen" segment at the end of Monday's Daily Show, but the featured guest was Ron Paul. Congressman Paul is challenging the candidates most directly on the issue of the Iraq War, but also on domestic policy, especially government spending.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, copyright ©2007 Comedy Central, airdate 2007-06-04
Jon Stewart: Welcome back! My guest tonight, a Republican Congressman from the state of Texas who is also running for President. Please welcome to the show Congressman Ron Paul. Congressman! Hello, sir. Nice to see you.Other transcripts you might want to check out:
Representative Ron Paul (R–TX): Thank you. It's very nice to be here.
Stewart: Thank you for joining us. You have accomplished no small feat, which is, you're running for President, very much as an underdog, yet you've created a nice little buzz going about the Ron Paul candidacy. What do you attribute that to?
Paul: A good message. The philosophy of liberty, and people are still interested in being free people, living in a free country.
Stewart: But you're talking about America, not spreading that liberty to other areas such as Canada, right?
Paul: No, no, and I don't believe in trying to spread it. I think it's a good message, but I don't believe in spreading it with guns.
Paul: We should spread it by setting a good example and get others to emulate us, but not to try to force it on other people.
Stewart: There was an interesting question — [audience cheers] and they're very pleased. Chris Wallace asked you at the Republican debate, "Why are you running as a Republican?" but really it's only your Iraq message that's somewhat different, maybe, from all your counterparts.
Paul: Well, I think that's the case, but I don't think they're very good conservatives, either. You know, they talk about balancing budgets and spending less, but they don't, really. You know, the Republican Party has been known to have a position where they didn't like going overseas. You know, they didn't especially agree with Clinton on going into Kosovo and Somalia, so they flip-flop around, but no, I've taken a very clear position that we shouldn't have gone in.
Stewart: That's what's so interesting about Congressman Ron Paul is, you appear to have consistent, principled integrity; Americans don't usually go for that. You seem to practice what you preach, you seem to preach it consistently. Even though people might disagree with the message, they can't argue that you're a man of consistent principles.
Paul: Yeah, and I like to think I've introduced a brand new idea into this campaign: I've even suggested that we follow the Constitution.
Stewart: I'm not familiar with that document, the Consti-tu-tion?
Paul: The Constitution, this thing we swear to uphold.
Stewart: See, I have found that the Republicans oftentimes will campaign against big government, but it seems, at least with this administration, they were against government they didn't control, but now that they control it, they find it to be very useful, and expand the power of it, as opposed to bring it down.
Paul: I think that's a temptation that most people yield to, once they get into power. I hope I'm different, and I hope I never yield to that temptation, and so far, so good.
Stewart: Now, you ran originally as a Libertarian.
Paul: I ran in '88 as a Libertarian candidate, but I've been in Congress for ten terms, in my tenth term, always as a Republican.
Stewart: You said something interesting before backstage: if you ran as a Libertarian, you wouldn't have gotten this platform.
Paul: No, no, you don't get into debates. You know, we're overseas, spreading the message of democracy, but here, if you're in a third party, you have a tough time. You can't get on ballots. You spend all your time getting on ballots. You have to be a Ross Perot to even get on ballots.
Stewart: To have some of the bucks.
Paul: But the two parties are very much in control of the system, and they exclude individuals who aren't in that mold.
Stewart: What about your domestic agenda? I think you've sort of made your bones on this idea about Iraq and liberty. You're a guy that really would get rid of a lot of our government.
Paul: Yeah, I think that would be true. I think a lot of our government is very wasteful.
Stewart: Right. Where would you go? Let's say — you won't accept, as a doctor, Medicare, right?
Paul: No, I never did.
Stewart: Right. But you stuck to that. Is that something you'd get rid of?
Paul: Yes, but that's not high on my agenda. Matter of fact, we've taught a couple of generations to be very dependent on government, and that's not my goal, because I think you have to have a transition period. I happen to think that the market can deliver any service better than the government can.
Stewart: Even — would you use that for defense, too?
Paul: No, we have defense, but this militarism isn't defense, this is opposite of defense.
Paul: So I think it would be much better for the private market to deliver all ...
Stewart: Would you go Post Office? You'd stay Post Office. You gotta give the Post Office — 41¢ is a good deal.
Paul: No, I'd legalize competition. I mean, what the heck — let a private firm. You know, there's FedEx, a few other of those companies that do exist. I'd just legalize competition in First Class mail and let the market decide which is best.
Stewart: Right. But doesn't that in some respects trust corporations over, because there's always been regulation, or you would get rid of regulation for that as well?
Paul: Yeah, and there's a big difference between corporations who benefit from government largesse — that's corporatism and that's evil; you know, the Halliburton stuff —
Stewart: No, I'm familiar with that.
Paul: The Military-Industrial Complex.
Stewart: No, no, no, I've heard some things.
Paul: How about a Bill Gates, though? He's very wealthy because we buy his services, and I think that's okay. I don't think we should be afraid of people who make a lot of money, even in entertainment. We shouldn't be afraid —
Stewart: No! I agree. In entertainment, I think especially in entertainment. Now what about — you've got a debate coming up, tomorrow is the big debate. Anything you're gonna throw out there, any insight into the other candidates you can share? Is there anybody you find just unbelievably distasteful?
Paul: Well, ideas — I find some of their ideas very distasteful.
Stewart: Anybody that you literally go, like, "Don't make my podium next to that guy"?
Paul: No, I haven't said that yet, but I think what I —
Stewart: What do you think of this Romney cat? Has he talked to you?
Paul: Yeah, he said hello once.
Stewart: He did?
Paul: Yeah, he did.
Stewart: I don't go for him. He strikes me as the Republican John Kerry, in the sense of this sort of aristocratic bearing but playing the game of like, "Hey, look at me, I'm huntin', I'm drinkin' coffee, heh?"
Paul: Yeah, but he's on top of the polls! What does that mean?
Stewart: Well, what do you think that means?
Paul: That means I have to work hard and get my supporters out there and do a good job.
Stewart: Here's what I'm gonna do for you. Very quickly, I'm gonna give you a couple of zingers for these guys tomorrow, so when you're out there — okay, here's a good one for, let's go with Giuliani: "Hey, you love the War on Terror so much, why don't you marry it? Oh, wait — you'd probably then just divorce it a couple of years later." Okay. Here's one! "Hey, Tommy Thompson! What's your middle name? Tom?" I'll have this for you on cards, if you want 'em.
Stewart: I'm here to help you.
Paul: Thank you. Me, too. "I'm here from the government, and I'm here to help you," too.
Stewart: Thank you. Thank you so much for coming by, and continued success, and continue to bring excitement to the process, because I think that's what's lacking sometimes, and it's nice to see guys just throwing their ideas out there for whatever it is and being principled.
Paul: Thanks a lot.
Stewart: It's nice to see.
Paul: I appreciate it.
Stewart: Thanks, Ron. Stay right there — all right, he's gotta go. Ron Paul, Congressman. They all leave!
- Former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi on Al Jazeera English Inside Iraq, 2007-05-25
- Al Gore on The Daily Show, 2007-05-24
- Al Jazeera English Inside Iraq, 2007-05-18, with a Centcom spokesman squaring off against a Sri Lankan "terrorism expert" and the editor of an Arabic-language newspaper in London
- Al Jazeera English Inside Iraq, 2007-05-11, with Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations facing an Iraqi critic of the Iraqi government
- George Tenet on The Daily Show, 2007-05-08
- Colin Powell's former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson, discussing the fabrication of the case for the Iraq War, and particularly the machinations leading to Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council, 2007-04-27
- Senator John McCain on The Daily Show,
- Former Iraqi government minister Ali Allawi, brother of former prime minister Iyad Allawi, on The Daily Show, 2007-04-18
Transcript follows below the fold. Click below for more...