New Orleans, LA–As he brought his third presidential campaign in 23 years to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Ron Paul told HUMAN EVENTS: “I’ve never been as optimistic as now.”
In an exclusive interview with us at the Hilton Hotel shortly before he addressed the SRLC on Friday afternoon, the Texas congressman said that there were several recent developments in recent issues–notably spending and the debt–he feels were making his bid for the Republican nomination for President this year stronger than his last in ’08 (Paul also ran as the Libertarian nominee for President back in 1988).
Paul also pointed to what he called the “Bush-Obama policy” of military obligations abroad as a key reason his support is growing within the Republican Party.
“Basically, Barack Obama is continuing the George W. Bush policy of strong U.S. involvement overseas,” he said, citing the Administration’s maintaining a U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and its involvement in the move to overthrow Libyan strongman Muhammar Khadaffy (which Paul pointed to as “the latest example of a blatant violation of the War Powers Act”). “The anti-war movement is a little more annoyed with Obama, because they expected more from him. Wars abroad are expanding and the budget here is out of control. But you can’t blame all of these things on Obama alone. Many of those problems were accelerated under Bush.”
Paul’s claim of greater political strength in this campaign was backed by figures cited by campaign operative Jesse Benton. Where Paul has almost had an exclusively “outsider” campaign with next to no backing from party leaders or elected officials, Benton noted that this year, “Ron is backed by three state legislators in Iowa and three members of the state’s Republican Central Committee. We have 23 state representatives in New Hampshire in our corner and expect to have the backing of 30 before long.”
Benton also pointed out that the major tea party groups in South Carolina are bastions of Paul support and that his man won a recent straw poll of Tea Party activists in Greenville.
Paul has about 40,000 contributors so far and expects to surpass the 180,000 number of contributors who raised about $35 million for his ’08 campaign, Benton added. He pointed out that “as always, we operate the campaign completely in the black and never spend money we don’t have. That’s the way Ron handles everything he’s involved in.”
Turning to the recent moves by House GOP Vice Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) to place stricter limits on U.S. contributions to the International Monetary Fund, Paul said “I may subtly have had some influence on her efforts. I support them but I have said all along–and well before the IMF started to bailout Greece, Ireland, and Portugal–that the issue is really why we are in the IMF in the first place. I stand with [the late economist] Henry Hazlitt, who warned of the threats to U.S. sovereignty in joining the IMF back when it was created in 1944. Hazlitt did not even want it established. We should get out of it, as well as get out of the World Bank, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization.”
Much like his years-old stand against the IMF, Paul believes that his warnings of a collapse of the housing industry and the dangers of deficit spending are now being recognized by other politicians “and they are now saying what we said long ago. That may be the best sign that our time has come.”