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Paul defends foreign policy views from GOP critics

 

LE MARS, Iowa -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul defended his foreign policy views on Friday amid signs that those views, and how they jibe with the Republican base, could be a vulnerability in his bid for the GOP's presidential nomination.

Paul held steadfastly to his anti-war message before a crowd of 200 people, despite being attacked by other presidential hopefuls, who have assailed Paul's views as dangerous to national security.

Addressing this criticism Paul asked the crowd, "Guess where I get the strongest support? Active duty people."

With just four days left until the Jan. 3 caucuses, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are running neck and neck, with Romney at 23 percent among likely caucus-goers and Paul at 21 percent, according to an NBC/Marist poll. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

"They don't want these kind of wars. They're not anxious to get involved in wars that are not in our national defense," the libertarian-minded congressman continued.

Paul said in response to a question about Republicans who viewed his foreign policy as radical that it was the same belief system he'd held for three decades.

Paul went on to explain that he felt the same way when he was drafted in 1962 during the Vietnam War, saying the nation wasn't threatened by the Vietnamese.

Paul said he felt as though his opponents had seized because he doesn't "have any flip-flops" and they had to do something. He said that it was unfair to characterize him as an isolationist, and defended it from assertions that he was weak, asserting, it's "not weak to talk," before dropping bombs.

For the second day, while warning about the encroachment of civil liberties, Paul spoke about a bill in Congress that would regulate the Internet. He said the Internet is a good "unlicensed" way for people to talk to each other and told the crowd the issue of civil liberties is important because "it eventually attacks all our liberties," and that means "religious liberties can be attacked."

Paul said his "message won't be on evening news," but a small group of people can change the world -- even quoting Samuel Adams -- saying there are "so many brushfires" burning across the country and that they are being spread in "a viral manner through the internet."