by Nicholas R. Schwaderer
This year’s presidential election isn’t out of surprises.
When America had just settled into the Obama vs. Clinton vs. McCain political equation, Ron Paul proved Monday night that his message still has a place in the fray.
Earlier Monday, Clinton said she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran in response to a nuclear attack on Israel. She elaborated on that statement in later interviews, saying her goal was to reestablish a Cold-War-style deterrence.
The Chronicle asked Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul about Clinton’s statement during a press conference immediately before his rally at the University of Montana.
“She doesn’t understand the presidency if she’s making this type of commitment,” he said, launching into a discussion on foreign affairs.
Paul explained his core position through the lens of the current Iraqi conflict. He asserted that we are in the midst of an unconstitutional war that was never declared by Congress. He also expressed his distaste of treaties under which America is obligated to go to war.
When asked what his response would be under the same circumstances, Paul said Israel is safer without our presence and could sufficiently wipe out Iran on its own. He pointed out that Iran ‘may’ have been working on ‘a’ nuke since 2003, while Israel possesses 300.
“Iran is the peacemaker over there right now,” Paul said. “We wouldn’t do anything unless Congress says we should declare war.”
Paul would promote non-interventionism, focusing on self-reliance and seeking to “avoid entangling alliances” to prevent unwanted conflict. He also felt that because of the U.S. acting as the “world police,” we have fewer allies and more enemies than ever before.
During his remarks at the subsequent rally, Paul thanked Missoula County and Montana for his second-place finish in the state, behind Mitt Romney but ahead of presumptive nominee John McCain.
Paul’s 25 percent showing in Montana in February is his best result to date anywhere in the country. As shown by the standing-room-only crowd of sign-waving Paul-supporters, Montana’s enthusiasm for Paul’s message has not dimmed since Super Tuesday.
He attributed his resonance here to the fact that Montanans generally support individual liberty, small federal government, and fiscal responsibility. He also said his many young supporters come from an upcoming generation concerned about inheriting problems that the current federal government is setting up for them.
One point of tension during the rally came during the Q & A session when a supporter said he was pro-choice, expressing that he had no say in matters of pregnancy because it was “not his body.” The statement was greeted with sparse claps and cheers, followed by resounding boos.
Paul politely thanked the individual and said as a right-to-life candidate, he opposes abortion. The law demonstrates that the unborn has rights, he pointed out. For example, as a doctor, he could be sued if there were complications with a pregnancy. When a pregnant woman is murdered, the law recognizes it as a double homicide.
“I can’t use force or violence to hurt another,” Paul said in summary.
Paul also touched on education, saying that government should not be involved in education and that with less taxation, students will be more able to pay for college. He also supports a tax credit for the expenses students incur while at college. He noted that he paid his tuition by working at his University’s soda fountain.
Montana, among other states, has a strong pro-marijuana movement. Paul addressed this by detailing out a piece of legislation he carried in Congress several years ago. The bill called for the legalization of possessing and carrying raw milk. Simply put, Paul felt that the government shouldn’t further regulate what Americans eat, drink or smoke. He proclaimed that each American has the right to make decisions in regard to his or her soul and be able to live with the consequences. Though he may have raised his children and grew up himself with certain beliefs as to how he should treat his body, he obviously didn’t want to impress those upon all Americans.
Paul also agreed with supporters who said the mainstream media has not provided fair coverage of his campaign and his positions on issues, even though Paul received more votes than early front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
“I think I was marginalized… I don’t take it personal,” Paul said, “I was never seen as a viable candidate.”
Why is Paul remaining in the race?
“[McCain] looks like he’s going to be the nominee, he’s not [yet]” Paul said, “As long as there’s enthusiasm … I’ve continued to campaign.”
He will continue to run as long as there’s a strong base of support and it’s financially possible, he told supporters. Asked repeatedly whether he would run as a third party candidate, he would only say that he “can’t tell” what the next few months may hold for his campaign.
Monday afternoon Paul signed copies of his recently published book, “The Revolution: A Manifesto,” at the University Bookstore. The book lists our current problems: ever-expanding government, rising taxes, wars, inflation, and disappearing basic freedoms. Paul advocates a smaller, fiscally responsible government and an emphasis on self-reliance.