2:12pm

Tue December 4, 2012
Politics

Outgoing Political Mavericks Reflect On Careers

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 3:33 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. When the 112th Congress adjourns, some of the most vivid politicians of our times will leave the stage. We've already spoken with Democratic Representatives Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich. Today two political mavericks.

One ran for president of the United States, the other for vice president. Both at one time or another left their parties. Both left indelible marks on politics and on Washington, D.C.

Later in the program, we'll talk with Congressman Ron Paul, but first Joe Lieberman, elected four times to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000. He sought the top spot on the ticket four years later. Four years after that he headed John McCain's short list for vice president on the Republican ballot.

Political junkie Ken Rudin joins us here in Studio 3A. Ken, good to have you one day before our regular political junkie segment, but...

KEN RUDIN, BYLINE: I know, I can't wait for tomorrow.

CONAN: Well, that's going to be even better. But as we look back at the career of Joe Lieberman, this is somebody who was a moderate Democrat and raises the question a lot of the times, is there room for moderation in either party?

RUDIN: Well, that's exactly right. And we saw that a lot of senators who retired this year, including Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman, these are people - Ben Nelson of Nebraska - these are people who did work across party lines. Sometimes they paid for it, and of course Joe Lieberman paid for it, his support of the Iraqi war in 2006 cost him the Democratic nomination for the Senate.

But at the same time, I mean, there are not many of those kind of guys left, and gals.

CONAN: We're hoping for Senator Lieberman to join us in just a moment, and in fact Senator Lieberman's on the line. Senator, good to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Great to be back, thank you.

CONAN: And we want to hear from callers considering the legacy of Joe Lieberman: Is there room left for moderation in your party? 800-989-8255. Email, talk@npr.org. Senator Lieberman, what do you think?

LIEBERMAN: Is there room left for moderation in the Democratic Party?

CONAN: Well, since that's sort of your party, it's the one you caucus with.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, yeah, right, no, because though I ran as a - after I lost the Democratic primary in 2006, I ran and, praise the people of Connecticut and the good Lord, I got re-elected as an independent. But I never left the Democratic Party, and I'm a member of the Democratic Caucus. So really the question - but the independent hat I'm wearing, I think should be: Is there room for moderation in either of the major parties?

And I think the answer is yes, I hope so, and it all depends on elections, obviously. But the worrying trend that I see is that the Senate next year will actually have fewer moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans, and, you know, that's not a good sign because ultimately, this place, as diverse as it is, only works if there are compromises, and the compromises occur from the center out, and there have got to be some people in the center to work together to begin those compromises.

CONAN: Well, you of course were primaried from the left for your stance primarily on the Iraq war.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CONAN: You saw your longtime colleague Dick Lugar, Republican of Indiana, lose his primary because of a challenge from the right. That's been going on in both parties.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, it definitely has, and it's a real problem to - I mean, I must say that I've - if I may quote or paraphrase President Clinton, I felt Dick Lugar's pain, really.

(LAUGHTER)

LIEBERMAN: It reminded me of my pain. It was - it really was a tough experience for me because I had - my voting record was independent-minded but really, you know, generally Democratic, and you could say the same of Dick Lugar on the Republican side. And the parties increasingly in the nominating process are disproportionately influenced by the ideological margins of each party, left in the Democratic Party, right in the Republican Party.

And of course as we saw in Indiana, and in my case it was a little unusual because I had - I got the opportunity to run as an independent, but Dick Lugar, Dick Lugar's - that is, the Republican who won that nomination lost the election, because people in Indiana, which is generally a Republican state, felt that he was too far to the right.

And I suppose going back to your original question, is there room for moderates in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, the reality is if - if the parties want to win elections, they'd be wise - and be part of governing, they'd be wise to nominate moderates because I think increasingly in the general election, in most states in our country, not all, that's what the voters want.

That's where the voters are, frankly. You know, most of the voters don't hew to a rigid orthodox, ideological line. They quite logically take every issue one by one. And they might be liberal on one and conservative on another and moderate on a third, and that's - there's no reason why their elected representatives in Washington shouldn't be the same.

And I'll say one last word on this, which was one of the more fascinating elements to me of the exit polls in the presidential election, and it's this: Among moderate, that is self-described moderate voters across America, President Obama defeated Governor Romney by 15 points, 56 to 41.

And, you know, I know some people probably among your listeners would say, what? President Obama a moderate? But it's relative. And I think a lot of people decided that President Obama, yes, was indeed - a lot of people who think of themselves as moderate decided that President Obama was indeed more moderate than the Republican candidate, Governor Romney. And I hope that reality is also an encouragement to members of both parties to make some room for moderates in their parties and therefore in Congress.

CONAN: Ken?

RUDIN: Senator Lieberman, we're talking about obviously you being on the Democratic side and then the Olympia Snowes and the Dick Lugars on the Republican side. But one difference clearly is that unlike Olympia Snowe, unlike Dick Lugar, you actually endorsed the Republican candidate for president in 2008, and in 2012 you actually sat out the presidential election. And that's a little bit more than just a Democrat working together with Republicans. Is that fair to say?

LIEBERMAN: Well, so in 2007, still feeling the thrill and kind of remarkable sort of reincarnation, as it were, politically speaking, that I had won the election in Connecticut as an independent, I was in the full throes of enjoying my independence, and I must say to be really honest about this, I was still not exactly the most popular person in the Democratic Party, so none of the Democratic presidential candidates were knocking at my door asking for my support.

My dear friend John McCain, who I've been really close to over the last couple of decades in the Senate, called me up running for the Republican nomination for president and said, you know, I'm just asking you, I mean, I could really benefit from your support. I'm - my campaign's on the line really in New Hampshire. Independents vote there. You're an independent. Please think about supporting me.

And I thought: You know, John is my friend. I disagree with him on a lot of domestic policy issues, but I agree with him on most foreign and defense policy issues. I respect his record and experience. I think he's able to be president. And so I endorsed him. And there - that's - I have no regrets about it. It was just a really unusual moment in my career.

But in 2012, frankly, it was a much more personal, almost I want to use the word emotional, it's probably not right, which was to say that having decided after all the politics I've been through that I wasn't going to get involved in another campaign for myself, in part because these campaigns are so bitter and divisive, I made a decision overall that I wasn't going to get involved in anybody else's campaign either, so - including the presidential or the run for my successor in Connecticut.

And that's what I did, different reasons, different context. Unusual, I understand, but my wife tells me I'm an unusual guy.

(LAUGHTER)

CONAN: Let's get a caller in on the conversation.

LIEBERMAN: OK.

CONAN: Joe Lieberman is our guest, 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. Joel(ph) is on the line with us from Sacramento.

JOEL: Senator, Senator Lieberman, I'd have to agree with your wife: You are an unusual guy. You're unique, and if we had more people in both parties like you, we would accomplish many things. I was a Republican for many years and my cousin a strong Republican for many years, but this year, voted for the president, as we saw the Republicans for the entire four-year period just do anything they could to prevent him from accomplishing anything.

LIEBERMAN: Right.

JOEL: And if more people were like you, there would be a decency, an honesty, and a good listening and reasoning and sharing ideas and coming to a common goal, perhaps with some different ideas on both sides, but they'd come together and they would blend those ideas in a harmonious way. We'd move forward as a country. And someone like you, I've always felt was like that, but honestly, up until recently, I'd been voting Republican, but I can tell you, many people I know...

LIEBERMAN: Right.

JOEL: ...were exhausted, exhausted in listening to the Republicans and seeing their behavior and how they literally were preventing the president from accomplishing almost anything. So if I were you...

CONAN: You had a front-row seat to that, Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: I did. Joel, I thank you for your call and your words. They mean a lot to me, and frankly, I hope some Republicans in high places are listening, because ultimately, you know, this place only works when people are willing to compromise. And for a lot of our history, no matter how bitter campaigns were, people got together and actually tried to govern the country. We're suffering for it now. I mean I think we have so much going on the ground in America to make our future bright, and really a lot of what's holding us back is the inability of the federal government to solve problems like our fiscal debt, like the threat of cybersecurity, like climate change.

And you know, I will tell you, we just talked about the fact that I supported Senator McCain, but when - President Obama and I have been friends over the years, and I supported what - and actually, you might say I was the 60th vote, but every one of the other 59 were too - what I think are the two major accomplishments of the first term in domestic policy, and that is the Economic Recovery Act of early 2009, and the health care reform of - at the end of 2009 into early 2010 because I thought on balance they were good.

And I will point out to - to just put an exclamation point after what the caller said, it's quite something that on the question of the stimulus - the Economic Recovery Act, well, we got three Republicans, moderate Republicans - Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Suzanne Collins - to vote for it, and so they've got us to 60 with all 57 Democrats. Of course Arlen Specter retired, now passed away. Olympia Snowe on her way out. Only Suzanne Collins is left.

On the health care reform, really a major change in our country, very necessary, not a single Republican voted for it, and that's really unfortunate. So we need to compromise and ultimately when - if voters like that - former regular Republican voters tell the Republican leadership that that's why they left, I think maybe the party will move back somewhat more to the center and not just be negative toward President Obama, because like it or not, he's going to be there for the next four years.

CONAN: We're talking with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, after 24 years leaving the United States Senate. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Ken?

RUDIN: Senator, I've watched you for a long time.

LIEBERMAN: Hi, Ken.

RUDIN: I remember sharing a train ride with you shortly after you beat Lowell Weicker in 1988. We had a delightful talk. I always picture you cracking jokes, having a good time, but obviously since 2006 it's been a bitter time for you, and a lot of bitterness directed towards you. Do you leave the Senate with any bitterness or any melancholy?

LIEBERMAN: I don't, and I tell you that the primary was really bitter in 2006, I mean - because friends, people I really felt close to, didn't support me, and that was disappointing. But - really personally disappointing. But the election night in 2006, when I got re-elected as an independent, was probably the single most thrilling moment of my political career, and I must say that I lost my bitterness. Honestly, when you win, why should you be bitter? And no - and I'd say that I've gotten - I've been able to participate in some really important accomplishments over the last six years, and I leave with a tremendous sense of gratitude. I never - my relations with my colleagues here in the Democratic caucus actually never turned bitter. I know there were some people out there and some obviously in Connecticut who were very angry and some continue to be about either my position on the Iraq War or the fact that I supported Senator McCain, but even there I think time has began to heal.

And no, I leave really with a sense of gratitude that I had this extraordinary opportunity for 24 years to be a United States senator and a real sense of optimism about our country's future.

CONAN: You have one big thing on the plate before you leave, at least one big thing, and of course that's under the rubric of the fiscal cliff.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

CONAN: What's your best guess now?

LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, my best guess is that we'll get something done and the question is - and avoid the fiscal cliff - but the question is what. Will it be something real, or will it just be kind of kicking the can down the road, which is really just basically extending the time in which Congress is irresponsible. In other words, kicking the can down the road by saying, oh, well, the fiscal cliff, we couldn't fix the problem, so we're going to move the cliff six months or nine months down the road.

And I've got to tell you that that right now, understandably, this is a very top-down hierarchical process here. We're basically just - the White House and the leadership of both parties in Congress are involved in the negotiations. The rest of us are sending messages, private or public, to our leaders. And my message is, today: take the proposal that Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership put on the table and bring in the proposal that President Obama has made.

They're different, but interestingly, they both amount to $2.2 trillion in savings and revenues over the next 10 years, same number, and begin to negotiate in private. Democrats kind of immediately rejected Boehner's offer, just as Republicans immediately rejected President Obama's initial offer. But I've said to some of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus today, it looks like a lot of Republicans are criticizing Speaker Boehner for even having made the offer and for some of its contents, so maybe there's something there worth talking about.

This thing ain't over, as Yogi Berra said. Everybody assumed we wouldn't go over the cliff, but you know, if we do nothing, which we're getting unfortunately pretty good at here in Washington, the country will go over the fiscal cliff, and really, everybody will suffer.

CONAN: Senator Lieberman, we certainly hope it's not the last time you're on the program, but in terms of your electoral career, we're going to miss you.

LIEBERMAN: Well, you're very kind to say that, and I look forward to coming back, particularly after I leave the Senate, because I'll probably be hoping there's somebody out there who wants to hear what I have to say.

(LAUGHTER)

CONAN: Joe Lieberman, for 24 years senator from Connecticut, thanks very much for your time today.

LIEBERMAN: To both of you, be well.

CONAN: Up next, we'll head over to the House side of the Hill for yet another exit interview. This time Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONAN: Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas has been called the godfather of the Tea Party. He ran for president on the Libertarian Party line but returned to Congress as a Republican and ran twice more for president, along the way sparked what some call the Ron Paul revolution. It promotes smaller government, less regulation and spending, and a greatly diminished U.S. role overseas. Congressman Paul retires at the end of this present term. And Ron Paul supporters, we want to hear from you. Where do you go once your leader has retired from Congress? 800-989-8255.

Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Of course Political Junkie Ken Rudin is with us, and Congressman Paul joins us from his office in Lake Jackson, Texas. And good to have you back on the program, sir.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Thank you. Nice to be with you.

CONAN: And I wonder, as you look - what advice would you have for your supporters? Where should they go once you've retired?

PAUL: Well, you know, I think of that in a different way. I don't think people have to have leaders. I think because I emphasize so much the individual, the individual, if there is a revolution, it's going to be spontaneous. So much of what happened in our campaign didn't come from a well-organized campaign. It came from a lot of individuals getting together on the Internet and spontaneously doing things. They raised money spontaneously. They would come out to rallies spontaneously, with the help of the Internet and with our encouragement.

So I think they'll have plenty of places to go. I think they'll act as individuals, and they're going to create a whole new atmosphere, and they're going to propel the revolution, I think, in a very healthy way.

CONAN: Inside the Republican Party or inside the Libertarian Party?

PAUL: Yes. And it's irrelevant, and I hope inside the Democratic Party because, you know, I have as many supporters coming as independents and Democrats as I do Republicans. This foreign policy that I believe in, and the position on civil liberties, is much better supported outside the Republican primary. I mean, that was a tough place to sell what I was believing in. I mean, I'm sure you are aware of the resistance, you know, in some of my foreign policy at those debates.

CONAN: Indeed. Some of your foreign policy positions sit better on the left side of the Democratic Party.

PAUL: That's right, and I recall one quote by Nixon many years ago after we went off the gold standard. He says we're all Keynesians now. So Keynesian type of economics has been taught and accepted in this country for a long time, so both parties follow it. So I think if you have truly a change in attitudes and understanding on foreign policy and economic policy, it will change both parties. And it's the ideas that count, not so much the - political leaders and politicians think they're very important, but they more or less are a reflection of a prevailing intellectual attitude.

CONAN: Ken?

RUDIN: Congressman, given the fact that you said that as many supporters of yours come from the Democrats and independents as they do from Republicans, and given your positions on civil liberties and foreign policy and given the fact that you refuse to endorse both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, why do you stay a Republican?

PAUL: Because of the system. The system is very biased against the democratic process where you can compete. I tried it, as mentioned in the introduction, that I did it as a Libertarian in '88, spent more than half the money just trying to get on the ballots, and you take Gary Johnson this time - he was a governor for eight years. He got no credibility. He doesn't get into the debates. We spend more time and more money and more lives are lost by us going to foreign countries, saying that we're going to spread democracy. And yet here at home, if you come to the conclusion that Republicans and Democrats never change policy no matter what they say when they get in office, same policy is this on foreign policy, then really, we have a one-party system, which is biased against anybody, whether it's the Green Party or the Libertarian.

CONAN: You and your supporters worked inside the Republican Party, to, as you say, infiltrated and take over state party mechanics and state parties, and then were roughly shoved out of that role during the Republican convention.

PAUL: Well, in the convention, yes, on the surface it looks like we were pushed out forever. But if - I had a call last night from the chairman of the Republican Party in Iowa, strong, strong supporter for the last four years, and this is happening around the country and in Alaska, I believe, in Nevada and Maine. We have very, very strong presence within the Republican Party. I just don't want to limit it to that. I see it as a much bigger picture. And yet, at the same time, you just saw it this week when we saw the speaker kick out two or three supporters who endorse me off their committees, you know? So - but I think that hurts them and helps us, because it emphasizes our independence and our willingness to stick to principle.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get some callers in on the conversation. Our guest, of course, is Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who retires at the end of this term. And we'll start with Joshua, Joshua who's on the line from Cleveland.

JOSHUA: Dr. Paul, I can't say what an honor to speak with you, first of all. I supported you in two presidential campaigns. I voted for Gary Johnson this year and expect if he runs again in four years, I'll be voting for him also. I guess my question to you is, who do we have left because Representative Kucinich here in Cleveland, who I voted for also because I'm, you know, a moderate who's willing to compromise on a few issues, and yourself, seem to be the only people in all of Congress who have a problem with Obama running the war on terror the way that Bush did with the drone strikes and, you know, murdering a 16-year-old American child? Who do we have left to advocate for peace, in Congress, with you and Representative Kucinich leaving?

PAUL: Well, we weren't the only two. I think we were more visible and we work together. And he is a good friend and we continue - we will continue to speak out. But I am cautiously optimistic that we picked up several more that will be in the Congress. And, you know, Justin Amash, for instance, one of the individuals that was punished by Boehner, will be there and he will stand fast. And he had to work a little harder this year to get re-elected, but was re-elected. So I think the people will elect people that go to Washington, not only to be an errand boy but to, you know, to fight for something different than just seeing how much benefits they can get back into the district.

So I'm not - I know what you're talking about. I'm a little bit cautious about it, but I'm still more positive about it, thinking things are changing. Not so much when I'm in Washington, but when I travel around the country, I think our numbers are growing. There are more people involved in the state party level. There's more people in the state, you know, state representation, state senate, so - and I'm very optimistic about the young people accepting these ideas of liberty, and civil liberties and a foreign policy that makes a lot of sense. I think they're sick and tired of this debt that they're facing. So I wouldn't be too discouraged.

CONAN: Joshua, thanks.

JOSHUA: Thank you.

CONAN: I have to ask you, Congressman, about some remarks you made after the election. There have been some petitions sent about secession, and you said this was a - an American tradition. You talked about 1776, but, of course, there was 1862. A lot of people were taken aback by that.

PAUL: Well, I don't know why they should. What if today, Greece seceded from the European Union and the European Union got together, invaded Greece and killed about 50,000 people? We would frown on that. No. I think the freedom to leave is the description of whether or not you're free. The Soviet system was so bad you could not leave. If you left, you got shot. So you have to have the right to leave.

In secession, leaving - coming together is voluntary, so once you can't leave, you lose your right of independence and self-determination, and I think it's a very bad situation. If you study history carefully, I think you'll recognize that it was well accepted and recognized north - the New England states, you know, were much more into secession than South was, you know, early on in the 19th century.

CONAN: During the war of 1812, yes.

PAUL: Yeah. They were sick and tired. They wanted to get away from the South, was one of their problems.

CONAN: Yeah, because the South was dominated by slavery and slave senators.

PAUL: Yeah. But they recognized that it wasn't like it was an evil, that they were evil people because they wanted to separate themselves, so yes.

CONAN: Well, then, the principal of nullification. If the federal government passes a law the states don't like, do they have the right to say no?

PAUL: Oh, I think so, because that would - just having the right to secede or nullify would restrain, you know, the advancement of the central state. Now, if you lean towards saying, well, no, we need a stronger, more centralized control, then, of course, you don't want that. But those of us who are strict constitutionalists and libertarians and all, we want government local and at home, and not at the central level because we don't believe in the central economic planning, whether it's social planning or economic planning. And...

CONAN: A lot of people would say, Congressman, without the role of the federal government, well, maybe not slavery but we would still have Jim Crow on the books in many states.

PAUL: Why? I mean, why would that be the case?

CONAN: Because it was on the books until the federal government said you couldn't do it.

PAUL: The government - I mean, the government passed all the Jim Crow laws. What you do is - I mean, the federal government does have a role in that sense. You can repeal Jim Crow laws, but that doesn't mean you have take over medical care and education and everything else in the world, to the point where nobody has any privacy. And the CIA and the FBI spies on us. The government gets so big and cumbersome. No, I think getting rid of bad laws is one thing. But after that, you should leave people alone. If you endorse this idea, what you do is you say, well, the government is important to make people better. And therefore, we endorse Obama's policy of arresting people who use marijuana for medical reasons, even if the state allows them to.

And that's strictly a straight, you know, this is where liberals and conservatives should come together, that the states rights - we want the states to be able to say that people can have their liberties back and take their own risk. And right now, this is a growing issue. I think the states are practicing nullification, right now, when they legalize the recreational use of marijuana. There's a revolution going on, you know, and I think it's great. But we don't hear the progressives speaking out and condemning Obama just like they should've condemned the Republicans for having this strong, monolithic state that doesn't allow some of these problems to be sorted out at the local level.

CONAN: Ron Paul is our guest. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Monica's on the line calling from Woodland in Washington.

MONICA: Hi there. It's such an honor to speak with such an American hero. My husband and I got to represent Ron Paul, my hero, in the local level as we approached the - coming up to the state convention. And I'm speaking as a 44-year-old mom who has never an interest in politics in her life. But I had one short conversation with a Ron Paul supporter named Bryce(ph), and it completely sparked a passion and an intentionality of me of looking at liberty as not just an idea anymore, but as a total and complete mindset that meant something to my life and to my children's life. And I am so impressed with the supporters that I got to know, people of high, high integrity. And everybody that I've ever spoken with, it just makes so much sense. And...

CONAN: And I'm sure the congressman appreciates your kind words. But where do you go now, Monica?

MONICA: Well, we go to Gary Johnson as a second choice. And, really, in my heart, it's more of a - more supporting him as sort of a show that Ron Paul and to all of his supporters to say, you know, let's not quit. Let's keep Ron Paul and his ideas out in the public conversation.

CONAN: All right. Monica, thanks very much for the call.

MONICA: Thank you. Bless you.

CONAN: Ken?

RUDIN: Congressman, regarding that last call, earlier in the show, you said this is not about people. It's more about ideas. When you ran for president last time - when you ran in the primaries, you more than likely finished in last place in the primaries. But in the state conventions, in the caucuses, you guys did very well. When does it become a point when you go from...

CONAN: He did pretty well in some primaries.

RUDIN: Well, some primaries. But when do you make a - go from the point of trying to make a statement to actually having an idea of we can actually win this thing?

PAUL: Well, first off, we didn't come in last, let me tell you that. (Laughing)

RUDIN: Well, many primaries, yes - in a lot of primaries, you finished fourth place in many of the primaries but...

PAUL: Yeah. And in some places, the votes weren't counted quite accurately. So, well, I don't want to...

RUDIN: No. But anyway, but I mean, the point is, when...

PAUL: But OK. The thing of it is we did very, very well. Our numbers keep growing. We were able to organize. We were able to use the democratic process, where you have representation and send them, you know, to the convention. And then they weren't even allowed to attend, so there was a lot of - a lot of shortcomings there. But you say when do you quit being overly principled and get more practical and think only about winning?

RUDIN: Well, you could do both, couldn't you?

PAUL: Absolutely. Because people - even my friends and some of our supporters are sort of split. They say, well, Ron Paul, I love him and, you know, he has a good philosophy and all of this, and we want him to do well, but he doesn't even really want to be president. He wants to just spread ideas. Well, why can't you do both? I mean, the whole thing is, is my measurement of my success and support for these views is, you know, is to get as many votes as possible. So it's not like I was overly principled and didn't care about the votes.

A lot of people - my friends or, you know, Republican conservatives would come up and say, Ron, we love what you're doing because you're a good fiscal conservative. And we could support you if you would just change your mind about this foreign policy. And I would bring this up in the college crowds and I say, this is what they tell me, that if I only change my foreign policy, then I would get a lot more support. But then I allude to the fact that how many of those individuals that come out, to the thousands on the campuses - would they come if I had a different foreign policy?

So they don't quite understand. And in the midst of a revolution where you're trying to change a whole - a mental status about what the role of government ought to be, you don't look like - it doesn't happen overnight. But this lady that just called in, she is the reason why I'm optimistic. I mean, she's not alone. People are so disgusted, you know, with the system we have, the spending of the money, Republicans and Democrats lying to us, starting these wars, violating civil liberties, using drones to kill people around the world, using the FBI to spy on all of us. They're so tired of it. And young people are spreading this message and understanding this like never before, because the revolution is very vibrant, mainly because of the Internet.

CONAN: Ron Paul, thank you very much for your time. You've always been a, well, accessible to us, and we appreciate that.

PAUL: Thank you. It's nice to be with you.

CONAN: Congressman Ron Paul, who retires at the end of this term, one of the people we're talking to in exit interviews. Political Junkie Ken Rudin, well, I guess I get to see you again tomorrow.

RUDIN: I'm not retiring yet.

CONAN: Not yet. You're right. Political Junkie is our show tomorrow. Join us for that. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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