Ron Paul defended his controversial stance Friday that the United States should stay out of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, and joked that he’s “considering” supporting his son, Rand Paul, if the senator from Kentucky runs for President.
The former Texas congressman, who’s considered by many to be the face of the libertarian movement, spoke at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, immediately following a video address to the young crowd by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Paul’s remarks contained his usual non-interventionism rhetoric, even when he was challenged by a student from Kiev who asked why Paul hadn’t denounced Russian aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
“Crimea is not exactly a foreign country, according to the Russians. But I’m neutral on that,” the former presidential candidate argued.
“I don’t take a pro-Russian stand. I don’t defend what they do,” he continued, adding that he thinks all foreign entities, including the United States, NATO and Europeans, should not be involved. “And get the Russians out.”
“I’m not pro-Putin, I’m not pro-Russian,” he also said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I’m pro-facts”
Paul blasted other foreign entanglements by the U.S. government, including the fight against ISIS. But, remaining ideologically pure, he argued individuals should have the freedom to go fight for what they believe in.
“Does that mean we shouldn’t have a moral concern? No. I would make sure that it’s legal for anybody here who wants to go and fight on either side in any war, go to it,” he said.
While Paul’s stances are largely cheered at gatherings like the one he spoke at Friday night, they’re otherwise lampooned by wider audiences and stray from positions from his own son, who’s long made clear that he and his father don’t agree on everything.
But as Rand Paul, who’s scheduled to speak at the same conference Saturday night via video, moves closer to a potential presidential bid, his father’s comments attract further scrutiny and get attention in the media.
In a light-hearted moment, the moderator at the event asked Ron Paul if his son was among his top three favorites for the Republican presidential nomination.
“I’m seriously thinking about it,” he said. “I’m studying his record.”
Ron Paul was also challenged by an attendee about controversial newsletters that were published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s and contained rants against the Israeli lobby, gay people, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr.
Paul, as he has said before, said he “personally did not write this stuff” but argued that the request to condemn the newsletters was “too broad.”
“For me to disavow everything I ever wrote in a newsletter, I mean, that’s foolishness,” he said.