Dec. 13, 2007 — -- Over the last few months, I've heard from hundreds of viewers who said that I should interview unconventional Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. So I did.
In this segment, we discuss the 72-year-old Texas congressman's surprising popularity with young people, and then, at greater length, his thoughts on health care. You can watch the full interview here.
Paul's libertarian platform of individual freedom, and freedom from most government regulation, has resonated with young voters.
He's the most Googled presidential candidate, and his videos are the most watched on YouTube. He's a hit on the Internet, a space mostly inhabitated by young voters.
"Freedom is a young idea. Tyranny is an old idea," he told me.
"Young people tend to be more principled, and they like that, and they know I've been dedicated to the principles of the Constitution, and they welcome the idea of somebody that talks about leaving them alone, letting them run their own lives."
When it comes to one of the thorniest issues in the presidential race — health care — Paul has firsthand experience.
He is an obstetrician-gynecologist who has delivered more than 4,000 babies. In his practice, he never accepted Medicare or Medicaid — the government health insurance programs for the poor and elderly — because he objects to government involvement in health care.
"We've had the government involved in our medical care system since the early '70s, we've had managed care. And all of a sudden, nobody's happy with it," Paul said in our interview.
Paul has even gone as far as taking the lonely position of saying government shouldn't provide health insurance for poor children.
What would happen to those kids under his administration? Paul replied by talking about his early experience as a doctor.
"I worked in a church hospital ... and I was paid $3 an hour in the early 1960s. There was no government insurance. But everybody got taken care of. And nobody was charged."
Paul says that private charity will step in to care for the poor.
"Should we move to, toward a socialized system, or should we look to the marketplace to help us sort out the problems we have in medicine? My argument, of course, is always looking for the answers in the free market, in private choices, and in individuals dealing with those problems, rather than depending on the state."
Paul also opposes Medicare.
I asked him, "How can elderly people be taken care of without a big government program like that?"
"Right now, it's difficult," Paul said, "because we made a whole generation who are too dependent. But the question that we ought to ask is, if we continue to do what we do, how are we going to finance it? There's no funding for Medicare. It's under a greater threat than Social Security.
"Government interferes too often," he argued. "We've become complacent and dependent on the government to protect us, and they fail, and they don't provide the services that they claim."
Paul says government cannot be our guardian and protector.
"The failure of government is becoming more evident than ever before ... the failure of taking care of the victims of Katrina, the failure of the war, the bankruptcy of the Social Security system. The government hasn't protected us from lead in paints ... it just goes on and on."
We always say at the end of "20/20" that "we're in touch, so you be in touch." Your being in touch by sending e-mails is what created this interview. So, thank you. Be sure to check back at ABCNEWS.com all this week for more of my interview with Ron Paul.
Watch John Stossel and Ron Paul discuss health care by clicking here.
Watch John Stossel and Ron Paul discuss illegal immigration by clicking here.
Watch John Stossel and Ron Paul discuss the Iraq War and the policy of U.S. intervention by clicking here.
Watch John Stossel and Ron Paul discuss what the government should — and shouldn't — do, by clicking here.
Watch John Stossel and Ron Paul discuss drugs, prostitution and gay marriage by clicking here.