As Tropical Storm Irene passed over New York City on Sunday morning, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) laughed off a question Sunday about whether he still wants to do away with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Have you read the reports that came out of New Orleans and all those wonderful things they did?” the GOP presidential candidate asked on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a policy that is deeply flawed.
“No, you don’t get rid of something like that in one day,” Paul added. “As a matter of fact, I’ve had this position for a long time, and the people kept re-electing me — and I have a coastal district. But I’ve also suggested that there’s different ways to finance this.”
Irene made landfall in the United States early Saturday in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, causing flooding, high winds and power outages as it traveled up the East Coast and through the Washington, D.C., region. Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday.
Paul said FEMA is one form of government dependency that he believes the United States must end. It’s this type of stand that is drawing more supporters his way than in his past presidential campaigns, he added.
A Gallup poll released last week found Paul finishing third in a nationwide survey of the GOP primary field. Conducted Aug. 17 to 21, the poll showed Texas Gov. Rick Perry leading with 29 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 17 percent, Paul with 13 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) with 10 percent.
“People are waking up and saying, ‘Yeah, Ron Paul is right,’” Paul said. “Why are we fighting all these undeclared wars? Why do we have a Federal Reserve that bails out the rich and dumps on the poor? Why is it that deficits don’t really matter and politicians just stand around and talk that they’re going to nibble away at a budget deficit that is 10 years out?”
At other times in the interview, Paul reiterated his concern with the United States’ role in Libya, explained his belief in the Austrian school of economics and took exception to host Chris Wallace calling his libertarian views unconventional.
“Right now the tea party movement and the independents in this country and the people who are caring about the bankruptcy, they think what we have had is unconventional with regard to our Constitution and the principles of liberty,” Paul said.
“It’s the philosophy of liberty, private property rights and not dependency on government,” he said later. “That’s the big thing.”