Rep. Ron Paul's foreign policy views this week came under fire when he criticized U.S. policy toward Iran, calling sanctions on that country an "act of war" at an Iowa campaign stop. Today, one leader of Paul's youth supporters in Iowa defended Paul's controversial foreign policy by drawing a contrast with one of Paul's top opponents.
"Newt Gingrich supports a failed foreign policy," says Joseph Gallagher, a sophomore at the University of Iowa and the president of that school's Youth for Ron Paul chapter. He rejects the label of "isolationist" that is commonly applied to the Texas representative and instead points that label at former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "[Newt Gingrich] isolates the United States by being the world's policeman."
"Newt Gingrich's foreign policy creates enemies," he added. The best option for foreign policy instead, says Gallagher, is to "trade and be friends with all nations."
Hostilities between Gingrich and Paul have been increasing lately; Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer this week that he could not vote for Paul for president, citing Paul's views on Iran as an example of how he is outside the mainstream.
Gingrich, meanwhile, has called for regime change in Iran, and has also said that the United States should bomb that country's nuclear facilities.
Paul's foreign policy views are one of the key points that give some Republican voters pause and on which his opponents have attacked him.
Campaign spokesman Jesse Benton defended Paul's foreign policy from detractors in an email today: "The establishment is terrified of the real change President Paul would bring, so they are distorting his foreign policy in an effort to smear him."
Rep. Paul is perhaps the most polarizing figure in the Republican presidential field, according to a new NBC/Marist poll, which shows Paul to be both leading neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney nationally but also the most "unacceptable" candidate to voters. But youth supporter Gallagher is still optimistic and believes that voters who hear Paul's message can be won over.
"It depends on what [those poll respondents] think 'unacceptable' is," says Gallagher. "Other candidates are advocating the same failed policies. [Ron Paul] is unacceptable in a pool of failure."