(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) — Ron Paul was greeted by large crowds throughout the day Thursday, and at his last event at a hotel he touched on one of his most controversial past comments, saying “people misinterpret what I say about what happened on 9/11.”
“But, very clearly — it was so tragic — but I just point out that a different foreign policy might have diminished the incentive,” Paul told the crowd of over 300, who mostly silently sat through his speech, but leapt to their feet when he finished. “I don’t believe people are going to come over here and commit suicide to prove that we’re rich and free. They don’t do that. They come because they’re angry at us.”
Paul then said people ask him “where did you come up with this crazy, un-American idea?” He answered his own question with Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense under President George W. Bush.
“Paul Wolfowitz, right after 9-11, says this perfect statement that I could have written. The 9-11 Commission confirmed this, Wolfowitz confirmed this, the CIA confirmed this, DOD has confirmed it,” Paul said. “What Wolfowitz said was we can close that base down now in Saudi Arabia because the base in Saudi Arabia was a good recruiting tool for the al-Qaeda. So this is the architect of the war saying this was one of the incentives.”
The candidate was linking it to Iran policy, saying the potential of America or Israel attacking Iran to prevent the country from getting a nuclear weapon “totally destroys anti-ayatollah movement within the country.”
“They say every time we threaten and they think they’re going to be attacked, the ayatollahs get stronger. So if we start bombing, their whole effort to undermine the ayatollah and change their government would be undermined. It’s maybe well intended. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes it seems out of control and unreasonable, because the other argument is maybe there’s people in our country that would like to get the oil. Could that possibly be it? It seems like we go into countries more when they have oil,” Paul said.
Earlier in the day at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Manchester, Iowa, the Texas congressman was asked what he would do about Iran from an audience member who said, “There is something going on there and I’m of worried about it.” Paul replied that it’s “not true” that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
“I’m worried about it too, but maybe not in the same way as some others worry about it. I worry about us overreacting on Iran like we did in Iraq,” Paul said. “I think what’s going on now is not too dissimilar with Iran. Iran is not a physical threat to us. They do not have capabilities. The stories you might hear about them being on the verge of a nuclear weapon is not true by our CIA and by the United Nations they are not on the verge of it.”
Does that mean I don’t care? Yeah I care. I don’t want them to get a weapon,” he added.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN