From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
On Meet the Press this morning, Paul called the American Civil War a mistake, criticized Ronald Reagan as a "failure," and refused to rule out a third party run.
Paul repeated his claim that Abraham Lincoln should not have started the Civil War to get rid of slavery. "Six-hundred-thousand Americans died in the senseless Civil War," he said. "No, he should not have gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original tenet of the Republic," he told NBC's Tim Russert.
"Slavery was phased out in every other country in the world," Paul continued, responding to the question if America would still have slavery had there not been the Civil War. "The way I'm proposing that it should have been done is do it like the British Empire did -- you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans?... I mean, that doesn't sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach."
Paul also criticized Reagan for not reducing the government to a "constitutional size." But Paul also is using Reagan's picture in his brochure. "He ran on a good program," Paul explained. "His idea was limited government ... and a strong national defense."
In 1987, Paul resigned from the Republican party. Now he's running as a Republican. "I represent what Republicanism used to be. I represent the group that wanted to get rid of the Department of Education, the part of the Republican Party that used to be non-interventionist overseas. That was the tradition, the Robert Taft wing of the party. There was a time when Republicans defended individual liberty and the constitution and decreased spending."
While Paul never voted for a bill with earmarks, he has included earmarks for his district in bills. "I put them in because I represent people who are asking for some of their money back," he explained. "But it doesn't cut any spending to vote against an earmark. And the Congress has the responsibility to spend the money. Why leave the money in the Executive Branch and let them spend the money?"
"It's like taking a tax credit," he continued, on why he doesn't refuse the money. "I'm against the tax system, but I take all my tax credits. I want to get their money back for the people."
Russert also asked Paul to explain his positions on abolishing agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and IRS. After listening to Paul list the reasons for abolishing the IRS, Russert asked the Republican presidential hopeful how much money would be lost without the IRS.
Paul replied that it would be "a lot" of lost revenue. Russert told him it would be "over a trillion dollars." Paul did not seem phased and said "the goal is to cut the spending."
"If you brought our troops home, you save hundreds of billions of dollars," Paul said, explaining how he would make up the lost revenue. "You can start saving immediately by changing the foreign policy and not be the policeman of the world."
Finally, Paul refused to rule out a third party run, saying he has "no intention of doing that." He previously ran for president in 1988 as the Libertarian Party's candidate, but is now running for the Republican nomination. "I can be pretty darn sure that I have no intention, no plans in doing that. And that's about 99.9% of a chance," he said. "I don't like people who are such absolutists -- 'I will not ever do this' or 'I will win' or 'I'm going to come in first.' I don't like those absolutists terms in politics."