Jon Stewart Respects Ron Paul

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: In case you missed it, Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, the medical doctor and upstart libertarian candidate for President sought some street cred on The Daily Show Monday night.

Paul got some kudos from Jon Stewart, who said even people who don't agree with Paul's message have to respect his consistency.

"What is so interesting about Congressman Ron Paul is you appear to have consistent principled integrity," Stewart said. "Americans don't usually go for that," he added ironically.

"You seem to practice what you preach. You seem to preach consistently, even though people might disagree with the message. They certainly can't argue that you are a man of consistent principles," said Stewart.

"I like to think that I introduced a brand-new idea into this campaign," Paul said. "I have even suggested that we follow the constitution," he added with his own bit of irony.

Paul has parlayed a strong, if minute, web-savvy libertarian base and some airtime in Republican presidential debates into a fair amount of buzz.

He had a memorable exchange with former NY Mayor (and Republican front runner) Rudy Giuliani over whether US Middle East Policy and the first Gulf War in the '90s led to the attacks of September 11th.

Giuliani said it was preposterous for Paul to imply such a thing. Paul has been hammering away at Giuliani's foreign policy acumen ever since. The comedic high point of the interview came when Stewart played on the feud and offered Paul some "zingers" for use in tonight's Republican debate, hosted by CNN in New Hampshire.

"Here you go," Stewart said. "Here is a good one here for, Let's go with Giuliania: Hey, you love the war on terror so much, why don't you marry it? ... Or wait, he would probably then just divorce it a couple of years later."

Paul is unique among Republican Presidential candidates as someone who opposes the Iraq war and has opposed it since 2002. "I don't believe in spreading (Liberty) with guns," Paul said. "We should spread it by setting a good example and get others to emulate us but not to try to force it on other people."

Paul also told Stewart he identifies as a Libertarian more than a Republican, but that it's hard in the United States to operate outside the two-party system. "You almost have to be Ross Perot to get on the ballots," Paul said.

To wit, Paul, a medical doctor who does not accept Medicare because he disagrees with the government subsidy, told Stewart about the libertarian ideas he would bring to the White House. "We taught a couple generations to be very dependent on government," Paul said. "And that is not my goal ... I happen to think that the market can deliver any service better than the government can."

This would include moving the defense department, Paul said, back to a defensive stance. What the Pentagon practices today, he said, is "militarism."

He would also try to legalize competition to the US Postal Service in First Class Mail. Stewart questioned the idealist in Paul. "But doesn't that in some respects trust corporations over, or is that -- because there has always been regulation, would you get rid of regulation for that as well?" asked Stewart.

Paul answered that even he does not like all corporations, especially when they leech off the government. "Yeah, there is a big difference between corporations who benefit from government largess. That is corporatism and that's evil, you know. Halliburton or something."

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