Ron Paul is coming under the microscope now that he is seen as having a real chance at winning Iowa.
Yesterday, the Texas congressman, who has the best organization in Iowa, was pressed on CNN about controversial statements in a newsletter published 20-plus years ago. Some conservatives are now taking aim, with one columnist even comparing him to Jeremiah Wright, the controversial former Obama pastor.
But there are plenty of issues of substance -- and positions he holds today -- that, although they're consistent with Paul's libertarian views, are potentially problematic with the conservative base and the general electorate. (We wrote about some of these issues back in August.)
Here's a look:
-- No federal regulations for car safety, medicines, even air traffic control: BRIAN WILLIAMS: "Does this include things like making cars safe, making medicine safe, air traffic control controlling the jets above our heads?"
PAUL: "I think in theory, if you understood the free market in a free society, you don't need government to do that. … On regulations, no, I don't believe in any of these federal regulations ... [W]ho ends up doing the regulations on the drugs? They do as much harm as good. They don't take good care of us ... [D]o we need the federal government to tell us whether we buy a safe car? I say the consumers of America are smart enough to decide what kind of car they can buy and whether it's safe or not ..." (NBC-Politico debate in September)
-- Don’t regulate raw milk: "This idea that the [FDA] is going to take care of us — they end up interfering with choices," Paul said in Iowa, adding, "So my ideal, as a symbol of moving in a different direction, I would like to restore your right to drink raw milk any time you want to drink it."
-- Heroin, marijuana, cocaine, prostitution OK if states allow them: "... In essence, if I leave it to the states, it's going to be up to the states. Up until this past century, you know for 100 years, they were legal. What you're inferring is 'You know what? If we legalize heroin tomorrow, everybody is going to use heroin.' How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? I bet nobody would."
-- No air conditioning for troops (as a way to bring them home): "We're spending -- believe it or not, this blew my mind when I read this -- $20 billion a year for air conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq in the tents over there and all the air conditioning. Cut that $20 billion out, bring in -- take $10 billion off the debt, and put $10 billion into FEMA or whoever else needs it, child health care or whatever," he said at the NBC News-POLITICO debate. "But I'll tell you what, if we did that and took the air conditioning out of the Green Zone, our troops would come home, and that would make me happy."
-- No FEMA: "FEMA just conditioned people to build where they shouldn't be building," Paul said at the NBC-POLITICO debate. He continued: "Yeah, my position is, we should have never had it."
-- Against the Americans with Disabilities Act: "If they mistreat people who are handicapped, don’t go. Boycott them. … No, the ADA should never have been passed. … it’s an intrusion into private property rights."
-- Believes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional: When it was pointed out that the Supreme Court didn't see it that way, Paul responded: "And the Constitution and the courts said slavery was legal too, and we had to reverse that."
-- OK with prosecuting CIA for "war crimes": He said they are bombing people in Pakistan with predator drones, adding, "I don’t want the secrecy of the CIA." And he accused the agency of being "over there torturing people."
"They committed all kinds of war crimes and tortured people and killed people, committed assassination. Right now, our CIA's running the predator program, bombing citizens and not all of them -- They claim they're bombing terrorists, but they're bombing a lot of innocent citizens in Pakistan. No, they shouldn't have this secrecy ... I don't want the secrecy of the CIA, I don't think they provide any services ... For them to be over there and torturing people, so that we're safer -- I think it's destroying the soul of America by permitting that."
-- OK with Iran having a nuclear weapon: Asked specifically if Iran wanted to develop a nuclear weapon, Paul said that it’s their right to have them. “Why would that be so strange if the Soviets and the Chinese have nuclear weapons? We tolerated the Soviets. We didn’t attack them.”