Paul leaves open door to third-party bid, unlikely to support McCain
In an interview on CNN Monday morning, long-shot presidential candidate Ron Paul, whose campaign is winding to a close, says he is unlikely to support presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and he left open the possibility of mounting a third-party bid for the White House.
Recognizing the mathematical impossibility of overtaking presumed GOP nominee John McCain, Paul says his campaign for the White House is down-shifting as he focuses on building his "revolution" in other ways.
The Texas congressman dismissed talk of a third-party presidential campaign as impractical, but he did not completely rule out the idea.
"I don't think it's very practical, and I think Republicans deserve to have at least a conservative to vote for," Paul said. "The conservative base does not the support John McCain because he's identified more with the liberal Democrats. So why should they be disenfranchised? Although the odds are slim, but they have a right to vote for someone that stands for traditional Republican principles: limited government, personal liberties. I mean, this is something the Republicans used to brag about and preach, so they deserve a chance to vote for that."
Paul said he likely would not support McCain for the sake of unifying the party.
"If you can unify a party and reject your principles, what is unity worth? ... I'm not likely to support John McCain unless he changes his views," Paul told CNN's John King Monday morning. "He doesn't represent anything I've talked about for 30 years. ... How could I reject everything I've talked about for 30 years and say, now it's all over, unity is the most important thing?"
The libertarian Texas Republican rocketed to prominence after his supporters coalesced on the Internet and fueled independent fundraising drives that shoveled millions of dollars in donations to Paul's campaign. Despite the passion of his most committed backers, though, Paul was unable to make much of a dent in any GOP primaries or caucuses this year.
Paul told CNN that he would still compete for delegates in upcoming contests in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to accrue as many delegates as possible to vote on party platforms and other issues at the GOP convention this summer in Minneapolis.
"The true revolution on the change of the party as well as change of the country is ongoing," he said. We feel very good about it which means I'm still in the race but certainly in manner that is less energetic than it was six months ago."
CNN's John Roberts talked with Ron Paul about how he will end his bid for President.
This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast March 10, 2008.
Transcript via closed captions
:: 20 minutes to the top of the hour. to politics, republican ron paul is winding down his campaign but on his website he says there is still something to fight for.
:: the victory in the convention conventional political sense is not available in the race, many victories have been achieved due to hard work and enthusiasm. elections are short-term efforts. revolutions are long-term projects.
:: congressman ron paul joins me now from his office in texas. good to see you. let's get to you straighten this out. let's hear it straight from the horse's mouth. is the campaign over or not?
:: no. it's not over. it is certainly winding down. there are a lot less primaries left. super tuesday has passed. mccain has the number. if you're in a campaign for only gaining power, that's one thing. if you're in a campaign to influence ideas and future of the country, the campaign is never over. this is a tremendous vehicle for us. we have gotten 350,000 people together. i tell you what, they don't want to quit. this is just the beginning. they're very much involved in influencing the party and getting involved and becoming candidates. so the true revolution on the change of the party as well as change of the country is ongoing. we feel very good about it which means i'm still in the race but certainly in manner that is less energetic than it was six months ago.
:: but the bottom line is you are going to continue to contest in the upcoming primaries?
:: sure. i will go. pennsylvania is coming up. north carolina is coming up. we have a lot of supporters there. i feel obligated because there may be 30,000 volunteers in pennsylvania waving signs. i don't feel good about walking away from them. some of them actually believe a lot of good will come from this. a lot more have come of this campaign than i ever dreamed. i didn't think that it would last that long nor we would energize so many nor raise so much money. we're really excited about what's going on.
:: congressman, when people say ron paul is out of the presidential race, that's true, not true, partly true? how would you describe it?
:: i would think in a nominal sense what are the odds of us overcoming delegates of john mccain. so in that way it's over but the campaign to get the maximum number of votes and maximum number of delegates to participate in writing platforms and talking about the future, i think we're very much involved and very much alive.
:: so you're still trying to influence the race and get your issues out there. there are some people that say the best way you can do that is to launch a third party or independent candidacy. what do you say?
:: it's not practical. republicans deserve to have a conservative to vote for. right now the conservative base does not the support john mccain because he's identified more with liberal democrats. why should they be disenfranchised? the odds are slim but they have a right to vote for someone that stands for traditional republican principles. this is something the republicans used to brag about and preach. they deserve a chance to vote for that.
:: mccain is on the campaign trail now saying he's trying to unify the party and reenergize the party. are you suggesting he's not the guy to do that?
:: well, i would suggest that unity might be secondary to principle. what do we believe in? if you can unify a party and reject principles, what is unity worth? i would say it's a healthy thing to have a discussion and debate. that's what the campaign is all about.
:: will you support john mccain?
:: i'm not likely to support jik unless he changes his views. he doesn't represent anything i've talked about for 30 years. nonintervention, foreign policy, free markets. no child left behind. i mean, he doesn't stand for any of those things. how could i reject everything i've talked about for 30 years and say now it's all over. unity is the most important thing. now i endorse john mccain. nobody would understand that. i certainly would have a difficult time adapting to that.
:: the flip side of that coin, you are the only republican calling for a withdraw from iraq. if you're not going to become president and be in a position to affect that, would they be better off voting for the democratic candidate?
:: i don't think so i don't think they're very sincere. if you look at obama's voting record, he's voted not to end the war. he's voted to finance the war. his rhetoric is playing to the people that come my way but he is every bit as much of an -- he wants to send more troops into afghanistan. he wants to broaden the military. i think it's a fraud what he's talking about when he wants to really get out of iraq. i think that's politics.
:: all right. well congressman ron paul from texas this morning. still in the race sort of i guess is the way that we could best put that. thanks for being with us. we look forward to your continued participation and future appearances on this program.
:: thank you, john.
:: all right. we'll talk to you soon.