Ron Paul strongly defends anti-war policies

SIOUX CITY, Iowa Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:33am EST

1 of 7. Republican presidential candidate U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks during the Republican Party presidential candidates debate in Sioux City, Iowa, December 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gay/Pool

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Ron Paul staged a strong defense of his anti-war views on Thursday in an outburst on foreign policy that might lose him support from fellow Republicans.

Paul came into the debate rising in the polls, admired by many Republicans in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire for his conservatism on fiscal issues and criticism of big government.

But in the last debate before Iowans vote on January 3, the Texas congressman might have crossed a line with Republican voters when in a war of words with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Paul accused his fellow Republicans of wanting to follow Iraq with another "useless" war.

Paul stated that he would not go to war with Iran if there was proof the country had developed a nuclear weapon, leading Bachmann and others to pounce.

"My fear is it's another Iraq coming," Paul said. "There's a lot of war propaganda going on."

Bachmann, trailing in the polls, seized on Paul's controversial foreign policy views, going for the jugular in Paul's most vulnerable area with Republican voters.

"I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one we just heard from Ron Paul," Bachmann said.

"The reason why I would say that is because we know without a shadow of a doubt that Iran will take a nuclear weapon. They will use it to wipe our friend Israel off the map, and they would use it against the United States of America."

PAUL HOLDS FAST

Paul, who is among the top three favorites to win the Iowa caucuses, held fast to his argument warning that "the danger is really us overreacting."

"You're trying to dramatize this that we have to go and treat Iran like we've treated Iraq," Paul said. "You cannot solve these problems with war."

The audience booed Paul, cheering on Bachmann.

Bachmann pointed to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that suggested Iran could be nearing nuclear capabilities.

Iran could soon begin sensitive atomic activities in an underground facility deep inside a mountain, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday, a move that would increase the stakes in a stand-off with big powers demanding Tehran curb such work.

The United States and Israel, Iran's arch-adversaries, have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the long-running nuclear dispute, which has the potential to spark a wider conflict in the Middle East. Iran denies seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

Paul, who wants to reduce U.S. involvement in the world to cut the budget deficit at home, suggesting the report was flimsy at best.

"There is no U.N. report that said that," Paul said. "That is totally wrong on what you just said. That is not true. They produced information that led you to believe that. They have no evidence."

Paul spokesman Gary Howard said after the debate that Paul's views will not cost him because voters already know where he stands on foreign policy.

"People know his views, and he's polling top three," Howard said. "His support is solid. He doesn't lose votes once he's got them."

Howard said that "people always misconstrue his positions," and that while Paul is for a strong national defense, he is not in favor of starting wars "out of the blue."

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Comments (173)
xtrabiggg wrote:
Ron Paul is consistent, and his views on Iran are supported by facts, evidence and history. How can his position ‘hurt’ his campaign, when one of the greatest STRENGTHS of his campaign is his position on ending all the unnecessary and wasteful wars? Our military men and women know his position, and their support for him is larger than for all the other candidates COMBINED! People are tired of war and war-mongering. Unless the Republican party realizes this, their nominee (unless it is Ron Paul) will crash and burn in the general election.

Dec 16, 2011 2:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
SwankyStudios wrote:
Ron Paul is right on foreign policy. I am voting for him. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. Makes Obama look like Bush. Makes Bush look like Carter.

Dec 16, 2011 2:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
rebekah0207 wrote:
I’m a registered Republican and very tired of the party being hijacked by neocon hawks whose wars have contributed to the bankrupting of our country, cost thousands of American lives, and killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Go Ron Paul.

Dec 16, 2011 2:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
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