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Paul, Bachmann and McCain on "State of the Union"

Paul, Bachmann and McCain on "State of the Union"

By State of the Union - December 4, 2011

CROWLEY: Ron Paul hit Newt Gingrich pretty hard this week and he's got the money to keep at it, $3.6 million in cash. Even better, he's got the army, Time magazine reports Paul insiders claim to have hard pledges from 20,000 caucus goers. A record 120,000 Iowans showed up in the 2008 Republican caucuses.

And one more number: 30.

Congressman Paul joins me now from his home state of Texas. Congressman, you were greeted this morning by a new "Des Moines Register" poll that I want to share with our audience. It is showing Newt Gingrich on top at 25 percent, and then coming in second, Ron Paul at 18 percent beating out Mitt Romney at 16 percent and everyone else in the single digits.

How do you take these numbers and roll it into a victory in January? Have you got the manpower to do it?

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Of course it is very encouraging because we're getting pretty close to it being within the margin of error. So I think we continue to do what we're doing. We've had the flavors of the month up and down so far in this campaign. I'd like to think of myself as the flavor of the decade. We keep plodding along on a couple of issues that are really striking a chord with the people and that is, of course, the wars, the endless wars going on, as well as the financial condition of the country because I've been talking about the housing bubble and the financial situation that we have and the crisis going on, and even the recent promises that we, the United States, with our dollar, will bail out Europe.

So these issues are been, you know, striking a chord with the people and I think this is why we are doing so well in the polls not only in Iowa but we have some similar results up in New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: You are in fact doing well in New Hampshire. But I wanted to ask you, I want to show another poll that we have done. This is a CNN/ORC poll. And the question is, which Republican candidate has the best chance to beat President Obama: Mitt Romney 40 percent, Newt Gingrich, 21 percent, Herman Cain was still in it when this poll came out 16 percent. You are down at 4 percent. And this is a poll among Republicans.

So the very -- there are Republicans in Iowa putting you in second place and yet only 4 percent of Republicans see you as the one best able to beat President Obama. Can you explain that to me?

PAUL: Well, if you're starting to talk about the general election, that poll doesn't mean very much because you take -- even in the primary up in New Hampshire, you know, the largest number of registered voters in New Hampshire are independent.

But go out and do a poll just on independents and put my name up against Obama. All of a sudden the disenfranchised and the people from the left who are upset with the constant wars and the attack on our civil liberties, they're really down on the president. And they're down on the economy. So I would bet you we get a completely different result.

And you don't win just with the hardcore Republican base. You have to have a candidate that's going to appeal across the political spectrum. And I think with my views they're quite different than the hard-edged views that so many on the Republican side frequently are showing.

CROWLEY: Well, in fact, you're right, it does take more than just Republicans, or for Democrats just Democrats, to win a general election. But, would you agree with the premise that when it -- when it comes down to that night in Iowa, and when it comes down to that primary night in New Hampshire, what Republicans most want -- and they are the ones who are going to decide the nominee -- what they most want is someone who can beat President Obama and they rate so many people above you. And that's why I think it is important to talk about electability, because it is a factor in how people view you.

PAUL: Yeah.

You know, I would say that if the people in Iowa wouldn't consider me a good option to beat Obama I wouldn't be a close second in there. So it is already reflecting a favorable rating for that. But I think you point out -- maybe you're giving me subtly some good advice, you better keep working. And that is what we have to convince the primary voters that we can do a good job in the general and that, of course, is part of the campaign. And I think that's where we're making progress.

CROWLEY: Trust me congressman, you don't want to take election advice from me no matter what.

Let me ask you about the departure of Herman Cain. What is it inside -- this was a man with huge appeal to the Tea Party. And who does leave some voters in Iowa and elsewhere looking for another candidate. What is it in Ron Paul's campaign that might attract a Herman Cain -- a former Herman Cain supporter.

PAUL: Well, I think you mentioned the right word -- the Tea Party people, because actually the Tea Party was started during the last campaign four years ago when our campaign. It's morphed into different things and it's broad-based and it is not monolithic. But there are a lot of people who call themselves Tea Party people that did like the independent mindedness of Herman Cain. So I think that we'll probably do better, even though some people are saying, oh, no, they're all going to go to so-and-so.

But, no, I think that -- and we're paying a lot of attention to that, because obviously they're going to go somewhere in the next week or so. That's going to happen.

So I'm optimistic that we'll pick up some votes from there.

CROWLEY: I don't know if you know it, but are you in a bit of a tiff with Donald Trump at this point who was told that you were not going to participate in a debate that he apparently is going to host. He said nobody takes him seriously. He's a clown, et cetera, et cetera.

I know you didn't -- you did not want to participate in the debate because you feel similarly about Donald Trump. Do you think the Republican Party hurts itself by having a high-profile debate with Donald Trump as the moderator?

PAUL: Well, yeah. And of course, some of that debate was going on from what the staffers that would like to take him on but obviously he was representing me.

But, yes. I think they hurt themselves. But in the statement that I approved, it said that one of the concerns that I had was really how he was treating the Republican Party of Iowa. And he didn't treat them well because he had agreed to come to their biggest fund-raiser of the year because he was talking about running. When he changed his mind about not running he canceled on them. They had to cancel the event. And that was a bit of an insult to them.

So I've gotten a lot of good favorable responses from the people of Iowa, even the people in the party that appreciated the fact that I mentioned that because they were very unhappy with the way he treated them by just stiffing them and walking away from it and they were left holding the bag.

CROWLEY: What do you make of his popularity? I mean he said my poll numbers when I was in are higher than Ron Paul's. Why do you think people like him -- you know Newt Gingrich is going to this debate, others have said they're going to the debate, but you don't want to.

PAUL: Yeah, I don't quite understand it. I don't understand the marching to his office. I mean I didn't know that he had an ability to lay on hands, you know, and anoint people. But I have to just do my thing. I don't think -- obviously -- you know, early on, even at CPAC, he volunteered the first attack on me.

But evidently, you know, he probably doesn't like my position on the federal reserve. You know, easy credit for developers and investors, you know they like easy credit and they like the federal reserve and they like that for bailing out. So I don't know, maybe deep down philosophic. And of course his position on China was quite different. So I think it is philosophic and probably his personality that doesn't like to be challenged.

CROWLEY: Let me -- this week the president has gotten a lot of good news that might be able to sort of pump up his campaign, consumer confidence is up, new home sales are up, construction spending is up, and unemployment is down. Do you think this helps his campaign? And it fits in to what certainly the Obama re-elect people have told us, which is they just have to show people that the trajectory of the economy is going in the right direction, and certainly this week would say that it is.

PAUL: Well, I think so. I think the headlines helped him. Sometimes I think we overdo it. Presidents get a lot of credit and a lot of blame, and sometimes they deserve neither. But I think the headlines helps him. But when you go out and talk to the people, all of a sudden the people I talk to aren't that optimistic.

And when you look at those unemployment figures. Actually unemployment is still a serious problem.

PAUL: There's more people dropped out of the workforce than the people who got jobs.

And if you use the old-fashioned way of measuring unemployment there, the statistics are pretty bad. The tendency of the government when it talks about unemployment or the CPI -- the inflation rate -- they fudge the figures if they're not very favorable. And the unemployment, if you measure them the way we used to measure them, actually -- and I believe these figures -- that the free market economists who measure say we have 22 percent unemployment, when you add up everybody who doesn't look for work, who are just partially employed or the people looking for jobs.

So it is bad. The people know it. The sentiment is bad, and they also understand that their cost of living is going up and their standard of living is going down, and there's very little confidence out there. But, superficially and for a short time, maybe these headlines will get a little bump. But believe me, a bump from the very bottom on housing really doesn't re-assure that many people.

CROWLEY: Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, thank you for joining us today.

And if you want more of Ron Paul, we want you to check out, just in time for Christmas, the "Ron Paul Family Cookbook."

Coming up, Michele Bachmann and why she thinks she's the only real conservative in the race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me from New York, Michele Bachmann, Republican presidential candidate, and author of "Core Of Conviction: My Story."

Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. The latest thing in this race, obviously, Herman Cain has withdrawn. How does that change the dynamic going forward?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I think Herman Cain brought a really important, exciting, energetic voice to the race, and I think a lot of people are going to be very sorry to see him go.

We've been talking with the Herman Cain campaign, and I look forward to having a full conversation with him. One thing that we've seen is that a lot of Herman Cain supporters have been calling our office, and they've been coming over to our side.

I think part of that is because people see that I'm the Tea Party candidate in the race. They saw Herman Cain as an outsider, and I think they see that my voice will be the one that would be most reflective of his.

CROWLEY: Well, one of the things that we're seeing, there is a new "Des Moines Register" poll out, where people are asked their second choices because, as you know, in those caucuses, second choices very often count.

And what they're finding is that when you take Herman Cain out of the mix, the person who benefits most from that is former speaker Newt Gingrich. How do you account for that?

BACHMANN: Well, I think what -- the dynamic is changing all the time in this race. It's almost like Wall Street, Candy. It's the up- and-down political Wall Street, if you will. Candidates are going up and candidates are going down.

And, really, I think it's when the voters take a look at the candidates. They want to see who's the most consistent conservative. And as the layers are peeled back, we find out who the candidates are, if they've supported everything, from the health care mandate to the Wall Street bailout, they turn away.

And when they find out that I'm the candidate who stands the most for their values, that's when they come home. People saw this in the Iowa straw poll that I won, that I wasn't expected to win that race. And I won, because people ultimately saw I was the most consistent conservative.

That's really also the title of my book, "Core of Conviction." I think they're going to see that now also on January 3rd, and I think they're going to be moving over. We've got 30 days. That's an eternity in this race.

CROWLEY: It is an eternity, and yet, as you know, every day counts. And you bring up that you're the Tea Party candidate. Certainly you've framed yourself that way. But I want to show you a poll about Republicans' choice for nominee, among Tea Party supporters.

So this was a poll of Tea Party supporters, and this was before Herman Cain went out, 29 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich at 21 percent, Mitt Romney at 18 percent, and then Michele Bachmann at 7 percent.

So it seems that that Tea Party patina has somewhat come off of you. How do you -- how do you gain that back? How do you explain this?

BACHMANN: Well, I think again it has to do with people finding out where people truly stand on the issues. If you look at, for instance, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, both of them have supported the essence of ObamaCare. That's not something that the Tea Party supports.

I'm the biggest fighter against ObamaCare. And of all the candidates in the race, I'm the one that's actually going to get rid of it as President of the United States, and the same thing with the global warming initiatives.

Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney also supported the global warming initiatives. That's not something that the Tea Party stands for -- or the Wall Street bailout. I'm the one who opposed the Wall Street bailout. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich supported the Wall Street bailout.

So as Tea Partiers see what -- where the candidates stand, they're going to come home. And I think on January 3rd in Iowa, they're going to come home and vote for me in that caucus.

CROWLEY: Do you think any of this might -- because certainly voters in Iowa at this point ought to be pretty familiar with your record. You've been there a lot, as well as in New Hampshire, but more in Iowa.

Do you think any of this could be in whether people view you as electable? Because it does tend in the polls to show that more people view the others as electable rather than you.

BACHMANN: Well, the best poll that you have is the Iowa straw poll. Clearly, they saw that I was the most electable. And if you also look at the polls, upwards of 70 percent of the people are still undecided. They take this process very seriously and they're vetting all of the candidates, weighing each one of them because they realize Barack Obama cannot have a second term.

We have to have a strong, bold candidate for president. So they're taking a look at the candidates. And there's a lot of surprises that they're finding in this race, and a lot of surprises with the candidates.

After they look at them, they're going to see, of all of the candidates, I'm the one who doesn't have the political surprises. That's why we have a website, nosurprises2012.com, and people see I am the consistent conservative who will shred Barack Obama's policies in the debates.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the trajectory, if you will, of Tea Party support. A Pew poll that was in early November, do you agree or disagree with the Tea Party: agree, 20 percent; disagree, 27 percent.

All the polling, ours and others, also show that the negativity of how people view the Tea Party has gone way up. Is it possible that the Tea Party has overplayed its hand and is seen as too hardcore?

BACHMANN: Oh, for heaven's sakes, no. If people know -- if you ask people what the Tea Party stands for, if you say, do you believe that you're taxed enough already, that's the essence of the Tea Party. Most people agree with the Tea Party.

BACHMANN: If you ask people do you think that government should spend less money than what it takes in, most people agree with that. Do you think that the government should follow the Constitution? Most people agree.

Those are the three core principles of the Tea Party movement. So people agree with the essence of the Tea Party. That's why I believe fundamentally they have the strength.

The strength is not with Occupy Wall Street. If you go to the essence of what occupy wall street stands for, it's having other people pay for their stuff. That's not where the American people are at. That's why I think you're going to see a very strong, bold turnout in the elections. Because people are turning against Barack Obama and his failed policies.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about those tax cuts. Because you are opposed to extending the tax cuts now in place whereby people are not paying as much in payroll taxes as they had been last year. So that's a tax cut. It will go away in January unless Congress does something. And yet you oppose extending that tax cut.

How does that square with the idea that people should have more of their money to spend?

BACHMANN: Well, I opposed it when it first came up a year ago last December. I voted against it, and I'll tell you why. Because it blows a hole of $111 billion in the Social Security trust fund. That's what it goes to fund.

CROWLEY: But couldn't you argue that...

BACHMANN: President Obama...

CROWLEY: ... the Bush tax cuts blow a hole in the deficit? I mean, you can argue that for other tax cuts that you favor. And so I'm trying to figure out why this one is different.

BACHMANN: Well, because the payroll tax directly funds the Social Security trust fund. Right now, we need that $111 billion in the Social Security trust fund.

And you also have to remember, Candy, the president's reason. He said he wanted to lower that -- the payroll tax cut because it would create jobs. Even the administration admits it didn't create jobs. It hasn't helped to turn the economy around. As president of the United States, I know what to do to turn the economy around. I'm a former federal tax lawyer. I created and I run a successful business as a private businesswoman. I get the economy. This payroll tax deduction didn't do what President Obama promised he would deliver that it would do.

Why would we continue something that isn't working and that is taking $111 billion away from senior citizens when they need that money in the Social Security trust fund?

CROWLEY: We should just add that the law says that that money will be repaid through general funds. But I've got to go, Congresswoman. Thank you...

BACHMANN: And there's no money in the general fund. That's the problem.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

BACHMANN: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: After the break, John McCain on Pakistan, the economy, and the 2012 race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me here in Washington, Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

So I want to... SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thanks for reminding me.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: So I want to take advantage of that experience of yours and ask you what do you make of the Gingrich ascendancy now in the party?

MCCAIN: You know, I have not commented on these different rises and declines of various candidates because I just don't think it's appropriate to do so.

I -- I did weigh in on the issue of waterboarding, which I am convinced is a moral issue. And also, I'd like to extend my thoughts to Mr. Cain. Thank you for serving. Thank you for willing to get into the arena, and we wish you luck in the future and a -- and a good life.

CROWLEY: You've got to be sitting back there watching this...

MCCAIN: Oh, yeah, sure.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: ... with some form of opinion.

MCCAIN: Relief -- with relief.

CROWLEY: With great relief, no doubt.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, when you look at the field as it is now, anything -- anyone there bother you in terms of I just don't see this as president; I don't see this person as winning?

MCCAIN: No, I respect the views of the voters. The people of New Hampshire play a very big role and they are aware of their -- of the role they play. And so I put a lot of emphasis on New Hampshire, obviously.

But, look, it's a tough process. If I had, frankly, a criticism of the process, is that I think maybe we're really getting a little too heavy on the debates. There's a lot of other suspects of campaigning besides the debates. They have so many of them.

But, look, it's a process we go through, and I'm proud of it and I'm sure that whoever we select will be the -- will be the next president.

CROWLEY: Well, that was my next question. How vulnerable -- just politically looking, how vulnerable do you think the president is?

And I ask that against the backdrop of a really pretty good week for him in terms of, you know, how the economy is going, consumer confidence, new home sales, as you saw the drop in unemployment. This strengthens the president's hand, does it not?

MCCAIN: Oh, I think that improving economic news is obviously very important to his re-election chances. I mean, that's very obvious. But it's still very high.

There's -- one of the reasons why the unemployment numbers dropped is that so many Americans left the -- stopped looking for a job so they weren't counted. There is a long way to go in this -- in this economy and all of us want it to improve.

Look, everybody wants it to improve. And so to say that we want the economy to continue bad because it would increase our chances of beating President Obama, I'd rather have us beat President Obama on the issues, on the future of the country. And also, national security, at some point, I hope, will play some role in the presidential debate.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about your home state of Arizona, which Democrats, you may or may not know, are beginning to eye as maybe doable for President Obama simply because you have an increased number of Hispanics who are registering...

MCCAIN: Absolutely. CROWLEY: ... a big drive to get them out, and because, by and large, that's a community that looks at the Republican Party as anti- immigrant.

Do you worry about the image, the imagery of the Republican Party as it relates to some of the issues that are going on up on the Hill right now? And I want to talk to you about the payroll tax.

But does the Republican Party need to refigure its imaging?

MCCAIN: I think that the Republican Party has to discuss this issue in as humane a way as possible. By the way, I would remind you that...

CROWLEY: Yes, but Newt Gingrich tried to do that and everyone jumped all over him.

MCCAIN: Yes, that's, you know, I still maintain that position.

But, look, also, the enthusiasm on the part of Hispanics for President Obama is dramatically less than it was in 2008 because he has not fulfilled his campaign promises, either.

So I view the Hispanic vote up for grabs. And I think that we are going to have to discuss this issue in a humane fashion. I still believe that most Hispanics agree that we need to secure the borders, if for the drug issue alone. We talk about people coming across the border, I'll tell you, Candy, the coyotes mistreat these people in a terrible fashion. The drug cartels, who are moving drugs across our border, that are killing our Americans by polluting our society with drugs. And we have an obligation to secure our borders.

But we also need to talk about how we need to treat people humanely... CROWLEY: Who are here.

MCCAIN: Who are here, who have been here for a long period of time.

CROWLEY: Paid their taxes, have a family.

MCCAIN: But the fact is, we don't want to trigger another flood of illegal immigrants by believing that if they can get across our border, they would be, therefore, home free. In 1986, we -- our beloved Ronald Reagan, we gave -- under him, we gave amnesty to three million people who are here illegally on the promise that we would secure the borders and we'd never have to address the issue again. Well, now there are 12 million people that are here illegally. So people have to have some confidence that it just won't trigger another third wave, as well. It's a careful balance of addressing this issue, which I think the majority of Hispanics would appreciate.

And drug trafficking and drug cartels and the existential threat of the government of Mexico, which spills over into the United States of America in many ways. Look at this Fast and Furious issue. It has to do with drug cartels.

So, look, I think we have to have empathy. We have to have concern. And we have to have a plan.

But at the same time, to say that we are going to have insecure borders and anybody can come across, if they can get across, then they're home free, that's not what -- the message we want to send, because it's unfair to people who live further away from this country and want to have the opportunity to come here.

CROWLEY: Quickly, because I want to move you...

MCCAIN: Sure.

CROWLEY: -- move you to some foreign policy issues...

MCCAIN: In other words, the long answer was too long.

CROWLEY: I'm sure -- but...

MCCAIN: The answer was too long.

CROWLEY: Oh, OK.

Yes or no, is Arizona doable for the president?

MCCAIN: I think it can be up for grabs. I think that's true of New Mexico, Colorado, Texas even, although maybe not this time. But the demographics are clear. The demographics are clear that the Hispanic vote will play a major -- be a major factor in national elections.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about Pakistan.

MCCAIN: Right.

CROWLEY: The U.S. and Pakistani relations are terrible. The latest has been this unfortunate NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

How does this get smoothed over?

MCCAIN: I'll try to make this answer as short as possible, but you really asked a complicated question.

First of all, our sympathy is with the families of those Pakistani soldiers that were killed, with our deepest sympathy and sorrow. But the fact is, there have been previous occasions where Pakistani military or others have fired across the Pakistani border into Afghanistan. This is a fog of war situation. An investigation is going on. But, also, the fact is that the ISI, the intelligence arm of the Pakistani Army is still supporting the Haqqani network, which is killing Americans. They had -- that is unacceptable.

There are two fertilizer factories where that -- the materials for which are used for IEDs that are killing Americans. Now we tried cutting of all relations with Pakistan for 10 years. It didn't work. But we have to address it in a realistic fashion and aid has to be -- has to be gauged on the degree of cooperation that they are showing us in helping us prevent the needless deaths of young Americans. That's our first obligation.

So I would gauge our aid, particularly military aid -- and we've given many billions, as you know, directly related to the degree of cooperation they show us. And we have to explore all alternatives. And but I can tell you, there's not a good answer to this.

CROWLEY: Senator John McCain...

MCCAIN: Yes.

CROWLEY: Sir, it is always -- there's always never enough time to talk to you.

I hope you'll come back.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.

CROWLEY: Thank you. 

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