September 21, 2007
By KATHLEEN GRAY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
If elected president, Texas congressman Ron Paul said he would change drug laws to free non-violent offenders from prison.
“Mandated lifetime sentences are insane,” he said during an interview Friday with the Free Press editorial board. “I’d release them. I’d pardon them.”
The Republican presidential candidate, who used to be a Libertarian, also would work to extract the federal government from the medical marijuana debate by allowing state laws to stand unfettered.
By freeing up law enforcement from chasing down drug users and non-violent drug dealers, Paul said they could spend more time looking for rapists, murderers and child molesters.
“And look at how much money we spend on paying police to sit in toilet stalls,” he said, referring to the sting operation that snagged U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho in a Minneapolis Airport men’s room.
Paul’s views are the polar opposite of most Republican presidential candidates. He firmly believes that the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq as soon as possible and drastically curtail spending overseas.
“If they (the Republican Party) don’t change their foreign policy, they have zero chance of winning next year,” he said.
Even though he trails badly in the polls and is enormously outmatched by the front running Republicans in fundraising, Paul said he feels support for his candidacy growing.
“I have no idea where it’s going, but something really unique is going on,” he said, citing the crowd of 1,200 people he attracted recently in California.
He was on his way Friday to the Michigan Republican Party’s Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island. He hasn’t always gotten a polite reception from the state party. Saul Anuzis led an effort earlier this year to try and get Paul pulled from GOP debates because of his libertarian views.
“Mackinac will be a test for us. But we might have a dozen supporters there and we might have a couple of dozen supporters up there and they will be excited,” he said.