Over the last few months, I've received hundreds of e-mails from people who wanted me to interview the unconventional Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. So this week I did.
In our hour-long interview, Paul and I discussed illegal immigration, the Iraq War, when war is necessary, the proper role of government, health care, drug laws, prostitution and more.
Despite relatively low poll numbers, Paul has had a big influence on the presidential campaign. That's in part because he's raised a ton of money, and in part because of the passionate following he has on the Web. It's one reason we're posting my interview with Paul only on the Internet, where the debate about Paul is very active. In fact, he's the most Googled presidential candidate.
Next week, ABCNEWS.com will post five additional video segments and articles from the interview.
On Monday, we'll examine the role of government -- what the federal government should and shouldn't do. Tuesday, Paul gives his views on when war is justifiable. On Wednesday we'll tackle immigration. Like many of his GOP colleagues, Paul opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and wants more border enforcement. But he says the real problem lies with birthright citizenship and other enticements of the American welfare state. On Thursday we discuss health care, and on Friday, we'll discuss one of the Texas congressman's favorite topics, the Constitution.
But first up, here's a preview of one topic: drugs and prostitution.
In the interview, we discussed prostitution, drug use and gay marriage. Paul says these are not things that the federal government should try to control.
"I think the government's role should not be involved in personal habits. When you defend freedom, you defend freedom of choice, and you can't be picking and choosing how people use those freedoms . . .whether it's personal behavior or economic behavior, I want people to have freedom of choice," Paul asserted.
He believes the constitution says such issues should be left to the states to decide, and if a state chooses to legalize marijuana, cocaine, heroin and/or prostitution, so be it.
"I would get the government out of regulating all those substances," Paul said. "I think the government's role should not be involved in personal habits. I believe those rules should protect children who are below the age of making good judgments. So, I have no problem with state laws that would protect children from the use of these drugs."
Paul also told me that marijuana, cocaine and heroin should be legal in states that choose to permit it; he feels the same way about prostitution.
"I would get the government out of regulating all those substances," Paul said. "I believe those rules should protect children who are below the age of making good judgments. So, I have no problem with state laws that would protect children from the use of these drugs."
And what about prostitution?
"If (people) do things that you don't like and you might find morally repugnant, I, as an individual, I don't make that judgment. So, I don't believe government can legislate virtue," said Paul.
Paul disapproves of the government's war on drugs.
"It's tragic," he told me in our hourlong interview, 'matter of fact, I think the war on drugs. . . has caused the price of drugs to go up."
Paul said we shouldn't treat addicts as criminals.