Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has been called many things: conservative, ultraconservative, libertarian. But the label he prefers is constitutionalist.
Speaking at The American Spectator Newsmaker Breakfast this morning, Paul kept coming back to what he described as a pro-Constitution, limited-government, noninterventionist policy. He made the case for himself as the candidate who could unite free-market conservatives and the religious right — “Their importance has diminished in the last ten years, but they’re still very important” — while leading the GOP back to the foreign-policy traditions of Robert Taft.
Paul defended going off the libertarian reservation on abortion and, to a lesser extent, immigration, though he noted many libertarians agree with his positions on those issues even if the Libertarian Party (which nominated him for president in 1988) does not. He weighed in against the Senate immigration deal (calling it amnesty) and social services for illegal immigrants. He advocated making the Bush tax cuts permanent and “adding to them.”
On foreign policy, however, Paul didn’t say anything that could be construed as an olive branch to supporters of the war in Iraq. He argued that the Republicans cannot win in 2008 by nominating a pro-war candidate. He did not back down from his exchange with Rudy Giuliani in the South Carolina Republican debate. And he was liberal — no pun intended — with the criticism of neoconservatives. Paul discussed his proposal to revisit the authorization of force in Iraq, which he said would put the onus back on Congress without setting up a confrontation with the White House over funding or timetables.
Though a little fuzzy on how it all works, Paul was pleased with the level of enthusiasm his campaign has attracted on the web. He attributed the buzz in part to his strong opposition to federal regulation of the Internet.
Over to you, Phil.