While campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul praised the Occupy Wall Street movement, comparing it to the Tea Party movement. "In many ways, I identify with both groups," Paul said. Both groups are fed up with problems in Washington and "the two-party-system," Paul said while speaking at an insurance company in Des Moines.
Praising the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement is an unusual move for a Republican presidential candidate, but Ron Paul is, of course, an unusual Republican presidential candidate. He jumped to first place in the Iowa caucus polls partly because of support from people who aren't Republicans. His comments that members of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are unhappy with the "two-party system" could fuel speculation that Paul will make a third-party bid of his own--something he has not ruled out.
Although “some people like to paint Occupy left and the Tea Party people right," Paul said, "I think it makes my point. There’s a lot of people unhappy, and they’re not so happy with the two-party system because we have had people go in and out of office, congress changes, the presidency changes, they run on one thing, they do something else. Nothing ever changes."
"The Tea Party and Occupy people are just tired of it all," he said. "And they would like to see changes."
Paul praised the Occupy movement for focusing attention on the “very rich” who became wealthy because of government bailouts or contracts, but said that wealthy people who make an honest living “have to be protected. We shouldn’t be jealous or envious of those people.”
Here's a transcript of Paul's full remarks on Occupy Wall Street:
That in a way is a challenging question, because along with that question, I get a lot of times asked about the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement started here, gets big, a lot of different people come in. I think the same thing has happened with Occupy. I put them together—I put both groups together. Because I think both groups are unhappy about what’s happening in Washington, and around the country, and the economic conditions. But their complaints are somewhat different.
The Tea Party people basically say the debt is too big and we should shrink the size of government. Occupation seems to be more addressing the subject of the very rich, and I think that can be a mixed blessing in the sense that in my talk already I’ve criticized many people on Wall Street and the people who get rich because they get special benefits from the government, whether they get contracts or whether they benefit from the devaluation of the currencies, or whether they get their bailouts, yes, we should address that. I think the Occupy people are.
But people who are wealthy in a free market who give an honest service or an honest product and they are rewarded by the consumer, they’re quite different. They have to be protected. We shouldn’t be jealous or envious of those people. So you can’t put them all together. So in many ways, I identify with both groups. There are some things the groups have changed a little bit. The first time the tea party movement was noted was December 16th four years ago when there was a spontaneous fundraising rally for our campaign. But it’s changed a lot. A lot of people come in. But I think it’s healthy.
I think if some people like to paint Occupy left and the Tea Party people right, but I think it makes my point. There’s a lot of people unhappy, and they’re not so happy with the two party system because we have had people go in and out of office, congress changes, the presidency changes, they run on one thing, they do something else. Nothing ever changes. And I sort of like it because I make the point that if you’re a Republican or Democrat the foreign policy doesn’t really change, even though there’s a strong Republican tradition of the foreign policy I’ve been talking about where we don’t get involved in policing the world. Does the monetary policy change? Do they really care about reining in the Fed? Would the Fed bail out all these countries around the world? More and more people know that now. But monetary policy doesn’t change
Do we ever cut back? No. There’s no pretense to cutting back. They’re not even talking about cutting back. They’re talking about a token cut to proposed increases. All that talk about cutting a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, they don’t even want to start until 2013, and then they want to string it out. And it’s just cutting what’s automatically built into the budget.
But the Tea Party and Occupy people are just tired of it all. And they would like to see changes. And if the conditions get much worse, the demonstrations on the streets could get much worse, too. And that’s what we have to be aware of. But fortunately we still live in a free enough society where they can speak out. If they violate property rights, if anybody violates property rights, they do it at risk. Because that means they’re practicing civil disobedience and they might have to suffer the consequences. But there are sometimes people believe civil disobedience in order to make a point on what’s wrong with our laws that’s, they have to understand, that’s the risk they take. But basically I think it’s healthy on both sides, both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement.