Borg: Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul's presidential campaign emphasizes reassessing the nation's international relations, reassessing meaning limiting U.S. foreign intervention. That's why recent world shaking terrorist attacks in Paris and resulting concerns about resettling Syrian refugees, in addition to deadly shootings in California, are focusing special attention on Senator Paul's political philosophy. Rand Paul is a politician and a physician, an eye doctor, studying at Baylor and Duke Universities. Volunteering in his father Ron Paul's political campaign led him into a longshot Senate run five years ago. And he won. Now, at 52 years old he is hoping that leads to the White House. Senator Paul, welcome to Iowa Press.

Paul: Thanks for having me.

Borg: And is that eye doctor profession gone now?

Paul: I still practice. In August I went to Haiti and we did 200 cataract surgeries down there. I go with a group called the John Moran Eye Institute from the University of Utah and I have gone with them a couple of times. We went to Guatemala the year before. So I have tried to take -- August is typically the month where Congress is out. I've tried to take a week during that time and travel internationally and do some surgery. I still do some around Kentucky too. I know a lot of the different surgeons around Kentucky and they'll find somebody, even with Obamacare, that still doesn't have insurance and we'll do surgery for them.

Borg: We'll talk about Obamacare in our conversation. But I want to introduce across the table James Lynch who writes for the Gazette published in Cedar Rapids and Radio Iowa's News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: As Dean mentioned, keeping us safe has become a hallmark issues on the campaign trail. You have recently suggested there need to be changes in safety measures in the nation's capital. Explain.

Paul: Well, you're talking about the gun vote from yesterday. Recently, I'd say about a week ago, the D.C. police chief came out and she said, if you see an act of a gunman, take them down. And people thought this was unusual advice from police because police usually say kind of stay out of the way and try not to get in the way of the shooter. But we've had so many of these shootings and the way even the Paris thing erupted is that her advice was if you see a shooter, take them down. Well, my response was, well that would be great if you could own a gun in D.C. or if you could actually carry a gun in D.C., both of which are virtually impossible. The District of Columbia has special consideration under the Constitution, it's under the purview of Congress. So we basically make the rules. They're not too happy about it but we make the rules for the District of Columbia. And so I introduced an amendment yesterday that would have allowed concealed carry program in D.C. as well as reciprocity with other states and the one additional item in there is we had that our soldiers would be allowed to carry weapons on their base. We've had a couple of shootings on bases and if we trust our soldiers to defend us overseas I think we can trust them with a gun walking around the base. And that way if a terrorist gets on the base I think they'd do a lot less harm if our soldiers actually had weapons.

Lynch: Senator Paul, you have also proposed limiting visas, suspending visas for residents from 34 countries that you say have radical Islamic movements, imposing waiting periods and additional screening before people are allowed into the country. Is this necessary? And how does it really improve safety if people are coming here under visa programs now?

Paul: We spend about $800 billion defending the country. We're everywhere around the world. We have 800 bases around the world. We're doing all of this and spending all of this money. I would think at the very least we would have a screening process before people come over here. There's about 34 countries that have significant radical Islamic or radical Jihadist movements in their countries. And I think we need to know if they wish us harm or not. We have 11 million people who are in our country illegally. Of the 11 million in the country, some people say 40% of them overstay their visa, and yet we don't know who they are, where they are and we're not doing anything about sending anybody home. There's 150,000 students from the Middle East that are here. If they're here on visa and 40% of them are overstaying their visa, wouldn't we want to know where they are and why they haven't gone home? Some of the 9/11 hijackers were here on student visas, not obeying our laws. Two Iraqi refugees came to my hometown in Bowling Green, Kentucky and tried to buy stinger missiles. When we researched them further on we found out that one of their fingerprints was on a bomb fragment, he was in a database, we just didn't do our job. So when the President assures me that he knows that all the refugees are safe and not going to wish us harm, I'm not so positive that that's an accurate statement. The Boston bombers came here under asylum with their families. We gave them free food, free housing, they were on Pell grants, we were doing everything, providing all of this taxpayer money for them and then they chose to kill American citizens. So I think it's not unreasonable to ask for more scrutiny and screening of the people coming to visit us.

Henderson: There is a divide among the republican field in regards to the bulk collection of data, telephone data, by the National Security Agency. You have come down on the side that they need a warrant, they need to go to a judge and ask. Critics of that position say that is aiding the terrorists. How do you respond?

Paul: Well the critics need to read the Constitution. If they want to just throw away the Constitution that would be fine, but we are a nation of laws. The Fourth Amendment says that if you want to look at someone's record, search and seizure, you want to come into someone's house, you have to name the person. So it is individualized, you have to have an individual you're looking for. And the reason we wrote this is that our founding fathers were aghast that the British soldiers were having generalized warrants, they called the writs of assistance, but they were just going from house to house to house indiscriminately and just looking in everyone's house. And we said, that's a great invasion of privacy, when we set up our country we want to do it differently. So I think it's a constitutional reason why you should have to get a warrant. But there's another practical reason. The bulk collection of all of American's records, all of the time, hasn't worked. There is not one individual terrorist case they can point to and say, we stopped this because of the bulk collection. The other thing is, is for all of those squawking now, Marco Rubio among them, that oh we need this program back and that's why Paris happened, we were still collecting the records throughout Paris, the program had not yet expired. So we were still collecting all American's records. The other thing is in France, they have our program on steroids. They have a program that is a thousand fold more invasive and yet they still didn't stop this. So the question is, and what I would ask Marco Rubio is, how much liberty do you want to give up? Particularly for a false sense of security when there's no practical evidence that it's really working.

Lynch: Speaking of giving up liberty, at this time of the year a lot of Iowans are out in the fields and the woods hunting deer with their shotguns. And it's a longstanding tradition here. I'm wondering, how do you balance recreational hunting and ownership of firearms with what we've seen in Colorado and in San Bernadino in recent weeks, this unexplainable gun violence? How do you balance that against Second Amendment rights and what liberties we should enjoy?

Paul: Well, the bottom line is the Second Amendment can only be changed through another constitutional amendment. So we have the Second Amendment unless somebody changes the Constitution. When we look at these shootings, though, there is sort of I think a sickness or sort of a sadness that we have shooting after shooting. And so when we look at them I'd say we have to look at what is common to the shootings. They tend to be white, male, teenage, either insanity, some form of mental illness seems to associate with all of them and then the other common denominator I think seems to be that they tend to occur in areas where there is no defense. So they tend to gravitate to shoot a place where there are no weapons and there is no one defending the people there.

Borg: But there's another common and that is access to weapons.

Paul: Yeah, but the thing is, is that unless you're going to change the Second Amendment I don't think we can get rid of the ability to own weapons. Most of them have been purchased legally, even in the shooting that is probably going to be more terrorist than it is anything else, in San Bernadino, the shooting there I think they're finding that many of the weapons were purchased legally under the state laws of California, which are some of the strictest as far as background checks go.

Borg: So to get to the point of Jim's question, though, you don't want this epidemic, if you will, of shootings to go on. So what would you do?

Paul: Well, I'm not sure there is an easy answer. I think if we could discover who is mentally ill before they commit an act we should not have them have weapons. And so there could be restrictions on people based on having criminally acted in an insane way. The problem also is, is that almost all these shootings tend to be sort of the first act. So how do you prevent a first act and how do you take away someone's rights if you don't have the ability to prove it in court? It's not an easy situation. If it were easy somebody would have fixed it a long time ago. I don't know that there is an easy answer. But I think some of it, and the reason why I start out with the word spiritual or a sickness or an illness is that there is something pervasive in our society and people talk about it all the time, kids spending six hours a day watching violent video games and doing that. Can we ban video games? I'm not for that either. But there is something that has to change and I'm not sure all of it involves government or how much of it involves government or if there is an answer. Part of the answer thought I think is self-defense. So if we're not going to get rid of the Second Amendment, I don't advocate that, I would announce that from here on out we're going to be defending our schools and I would allow concealed carry in the schools. I would allow for more security guards in schools when we can do that. But I would just simply announce we're not going to have gun free zones. The gun free zones tend to be targets for those who are shooters.

Borg: Just to be clear with what you've just said, administrators and teachers armed?

Paul: Yeah, I think deterrence is a big factor here if you want to deter people from going to places. When you put a sign up that says gun free zone, that's an invitation for someone who wants to act in a violent way to come there. Think about it, these shooters, while they tend to be homicidal and crazy to a certain extent, they aren't crazy enough that they show up at the sheriff's station, they don't shoot up police stations and sheriff's stations because they'll be shot back. They go to an area where there is no defense.

Henderson: Speaking of a place that is anything but a violence free zone, the Middle East. Do you support sending U.S. troops to fight ISIS?

Paul: No and I think that the ultimate answer over there, I was opposed to the first Iraq War, I think it was a mistake and I think if there's one thing that we can learn from the Middle East over the last couple of decades is that when we've toppled secular dictators, when we have called for regime change we have gotten chaos and the rise of radical Islam and we're less safe. The interesting thing is I think you have people on both sides of the aisle have the same point of view. I think Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio's position and foreign policy is almost identical. They are both for regime change in Libya and thought it would be good for us. But we toppled Gaddafi, we got chaos, the rise of radical Islam and now a third of Libya pledges allegiance to ISIS. So I think both Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio were wrong with wanting regime change there. Same goes for Iraq, the original war there. Hillary Clinton supported it, so did Rubio toppling Hussein. We're still fighting the chaos there a decade or more later and the same goes with Syria as well. I think toppling Assad is a mistake and I don't think that it will make us less or more safe, I think it will actually lead to more instability and perhaps ISIS controlling the entire region if we were to topple Assad.

Borg: Judging from a recent DOD opening, women in combat now, we may have women in the Middle East very, very soon then. Is that a concept with which you agree?

Paul: I think the way I would treat it if I were in charge of the military would be to say that anybody that can pass the physical testing could do it. I think the problem that some have with women in combat is they are not required to do the same physical testing. So if you're required to do 10 pull-ups to be a ranger and you've got to carry 50 or 100 pounds on your back, everybody should do that. And there probably are some women that can do it. I'm sure there are women that can do more pull-ups than I can do probably. However, it ought to be objective and it shouldn't just be oh we want to be equal. The military is about performance and if you can perform to the same standards by all means I wouldn't stop women from performing in combat. But they should have to do exactly the same standards as men, same for firemen too. All of the positions where you want somebody who has strength, by golly you've got to have strength to get the job. It shouldn't just be given to you because of some other consideration.

Lynch: You talked about not wanting to send troops into the Middle East to fight ISIS. Some people have called you an isolationist. How would you describe your foreign policy outlook and contrast that with isolationism?

Paul: Well, there are two extremes to foreign policy. One would be that we're nowhere any of the time and we just retreat behind our oceans and we're just here. That's isolationism. But the other extreme is that we're everywhere all the time, that there's never a civil war that America doesn't have to have boots on the ground. I think we're very close to the everywhere all the time. I think there's a middle ground and I'd say it's that we're somewhere some of the time but we go to war according to the Constitution. The Constitution gave the power to declare war or initiate war to Congress. So my point is we shouldn't fight anywhere unless Congress votes on it. And people say well that's messy, we won't get them all to agree. Well then maybe we'd be at war less. I think we tend to agree pretty much when we're attacked. When we were attacked in Pearl Harbor the vote was nearly unanimous to respond and we declared war with Japan. When we were attacked at 9/11 the vote was nearly unanimous to respond to those who organized and plotted and planned the attacks. But I do think it's careful that we, we need to be very careful that we obey the Constitution. Right now they are fighting a war in Iraq based on a vote from 2001 and I don't think one generation should be able to bind another generation. And I don't think -- the resolution in 2001 said we go after those who attacked us on 9/11. The people in Iraq aren't the people who attacked us on 9/11, they have nothing to do with it. They have some of the same philosophy but it's not the same people and that is not what the people in 2001 and Congress voted for. So I think we should have to vote again and Congress is very important, but the middle ground that I hold if I were to describe it I would call it more foreign policy realism, that we see the world as it is, we don't think it's possible, likely or very productive to say we're going to recreate the world in our image. The neoconservatives, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and others, they think we're going to knock down bad people, regimes, get rid of them and in their place somehow miraculous Jeffersonian democracy is going to spring up and I think that's very naive, it's very dangerous, it's very expensive and it also leads to a great deal of death and carnage and I'm very concerned about either one of them leading the country because I think either Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio will take us back to war in the Middle East.

Henderson: Why do you keep talking about Marco Rubio?

Paul: Because it worries me. I think he's going to become the establishment candidate. I think he is the establishment candidate to beat and it worries me because his foreign policy is way out there. I mean, his is a foreign policy that right now he's calling for a no fly zone, but so is Hillary Clinton. And so the thing is, is I think people need to realize it when they go to the polls, is there a difference between Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. I don't mention Jeb Bush because he's not doing as well and so I don't think he is necessarily the one that has to be, the attempt has to be made not to allow him to win the nomination. I think Rubio has a chance of it but I think he'd be very, very bad for the country.

Borg: Marco Rubio, if he were elected the nominee and elected president, what do you see going wrong with this nation?

Paul: I think we'll have troops back in the Middle East. I think his advocacy for intervening, but see he has also realized he and McCain and Graham, they're all sort of the same, they are for a foreign policy and for a use of authorization of force that would be unlimited geographically throughout the Middle East. If they had their way, and we had this vote in the foreign relations committee and I voted against this, they voted for a use of force that is unlimited geographically and unlimited time wise. So right now we could have troops in Libya, Nigeria, Mali, Syria, Iraq, we could have troops in maybe a dozen countries.

Borg: And what's wrong with that, we can't afford it?

Paul: Well, one, it doesn't work. We can't afford it. And I think there needs to be an American interest. If you're going to have thousands of our soldiers, our men and women die, there has to be an American interest.

Henderson: I covered you in Ames in September and you used the phrase combat mode in relationship to another one of your competitors, Donald Trump. And you raised questions and concerns about his control of the nuclear code were he to be president. You're now focusing your fire rhetorically on Senator Rubio, why not Donald Trump? He's leading in the polls.

Paul: I've got something left for Donald Trump too. I'm glad we brought that up. I think that Donald Trump would be very worrisome as well because I think there is a lack of maturity, there's a lack of insight, there's a lack of wisdom, there is a sort of I think a not so subtle narcissism that I think and worry could lead to an authoritarianism because he is trust me, I am so smart, I am so rich therefore I must be smart and that all you have to do is trust me, people love me, people will love me and I can fix all problems. The problem with that is, is that somebody who says give me more power and trust me, I will take care of things, give me the power to close down the mosques and there will be no terrorists, give me the power to expel these people from our country and there will be no problem with immigrants, give me the power to do this -- I come from a tradition of people who are very, very concerned about government having too much power. In fact, it's a long tradition. It goes back to the Magna Carta of wanting to limit the people in power. I don't care whether they're republican or democrat, I don't want a president to have a lot of power. So when I argue against President Obama having too much power, I see Obama or Bush. It doesn't matter to me. I see the necessity to limit power because you lose freedom when there's more power.

Lynch: One of the what republicans refer to as a big power grab was Obamacare and like other republican senators and presidential candidates you have opposed it. But the question is, what do you replace it with? What comes after Obamacare? You come from a medical profession. What do you see as a need?

Paul: I practiced medicine for 20 years in a small town in Kentucky and the biggest complaint, the number one complaint I go from people when they came in was the expensive of insurance, whether you owned a business or whether you worked there, having to pay more for their insurance. Obamacare didn't do anything for the expense for those who buy their insurance, in fact it did the opposite because what we did is we gave more people free and subsidized insurance but the pool of people paying for their insurance is shrinking so they're having to pay more to pay for everybody else's health care. I think when we look at the health care problem what we need to do is understand that it is an economic problem and we have to look at our economy and say, what works in our economy. Is capitalism a good thing or a bad thing? Is it a good thing to have freely fluctuating prices and to have lots of competition? Well, it seems to be for iPhones, for iPads, for electronics, for televisions. Competition tends to work. We get great products, very sophisticated products at cheaper prices every year. Medicine is a complete opposite. Prices go up every year more than inflation. Why? Because government is already too involved. So we had a problem, we analyzed it and we said oh we need more government and I would have said we need less government. If I were to replace it, I would replace it with a marketplace. I would expand health savings accounts, the ability to save in a way that is deductible to your taxes. I would also encourage competition across state lines. There are a couple aspects as an eye surgeon where there were things I did where the price came down every year. The interesting thing is they were things that insurance didn't cover. Lasik surgery to get rid of glasses, price went down by 75% over 15 years. The average patient calls four doctors and asks the price. And every time the receptionist who answers the phone can tell you the price. Try calling any doctor in Iowa or in Kentucky and say, I need to have my gall bladder out, can you tell me how much it's going to be? Nobody knows.

Borg: What would you do then if you're abandoning Obamacare, what would you do for the people who now are receiving the subsidies?

Paul: Right. We've had a safety net for a long time. We've had Medicaid as a safety net. What you have to do in a free and prosperous society is try to make your safety net not so big that it burdens the economy and it can't grow fast enough to take care of those who can't take care of themselves. So the safety net needs to be small. Think about as you walk around your daily life in Des Moines and ask yourself what percentage of the people here do I think struggle and can't take care of themselves? It should be a small percentage, three or four percent of the public. But when you get to where it's forty and fifty percent of the public, now you have a burden so large there's not going to be enough people left to pay for it and it becomes so unwieldy and so long that you end up hurting the people that you put on it by making it permanent. I'll give you one quick example. Unemployment insurance. People who have big hearts say well we need more unemployment insurance, we need to let it go longer. But when they got up to 99 weeks they did studies and they found out if I'm the employer and someone has been on unemployment three weeks and someone has been on it 99 weeks, who gets hired? Every time it is the person that has been unemployed three weeks. So it's actually a disservice to keep people on it longer. So you need to do it through a safety net but the safety net needs to be small enough that society can pay for it.

Henderson: Let's turn to just briefly some campaign topics. What sort of finish do you believe you need to have in Iowa to be a viable candidate in New Hampshire --

Paul: A strong finish, we need a really strong finish.

Henderson: Top three?

Paul: Yeah, top three. We really, I don't even look at it that way. I look at it is it's like any kind of sporting event, I'm here to win and I'm serious. And people say well you're not doing very well in the polls and it's like, well have you watched how bad the pollsters are? The pollsters are the ones that should be fired. In my state two weeks ago or three weeks ago the Governor was said to be down, the republican down five points, he won by eight or nine. Fourteen points off with one week to go. I think the polls really are not very good anymore. We think one of our strong suits is younger voters and the younger voters, I have yet to meet a college student who has ever done a presidential poll. So we think they are undercounted. We think our other strong suit is independents, so we're trying to get independents to vote, the primary system is open here, the caucus system is open here, so we're trying to get independents to vote. And then we think there is a contingent of liberty voters, some of which were started by my dad, but really people who believe in less war, less intervention, smaller government. And so we think those three pools, students, independents and the liberty movement together, we think it's enough to win.

Lynch: How many of those young voters though are now Bernie Sanders supporters? What you're describing sound like the people who show up at his rallies.

Paul: I think there are two pockets of students out there and two candidates they're gravitating towards and Sanders is one and ours is the other. We have spent a lot of time, we're organized on all 20 campuses here. We have a great ground game. I have no idea whether he does or he doesn't. But I do spend a good percentage of the time when I'm speaking to college students saying that you don't want crazy old uncle Bernie because what he's offering you is not sincere and it will make you poor and it will destroy the country. You can't have stuff for free, you can't have free college. Someone will pay, you just can't see them. And is it really fair for you to be going to college while the plumber or the carpenter who can't go to college is paying for your education? So I think some kids get it, some don't. There's always a segment of society that will want something for nothing. But I think that socialism is the most anti-choice system you'll ever meet and it often really, or always really is predicated upon implied violence.

Borg: In the half minute that we have left, less than that, you're a physician, still practicing to a certain extent, you have a seat in the Senate and you're pursuing the White House. If the White House doesn't turn out, when do you have to make a decision on where to go?

Paul: In our state we have changed the law and we have become a caucus state. We are patterning a little bit after Iowa. And so we have changed, we have our primary and caucus are separate so I don't have any kind of concern at this point in time. I'll be able to go through the presidential primary season. And like a lot of candidates, I'm going to know something by February whether our expectations are great or not.

Borg: Senator Paul, thanks for being here.

Paul: Thank you.

Borg: And we'll be back next week with another edition, 7:30 Friday night, noon on Sunday. Thanks for joining us today. 

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