"Face the Nation" transcript: November 20, 2011

Ron Paul, Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey

Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 20, 2011, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. The guests are Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey,and Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, they're up, they're down as the Republican campaign roller-coaster takes yet another turn.

JON STEWART: And so the names of the fallen sound out: Bachmann, Perry, Cain, perhaps Ron Paul will now get his shot as the media front-runner.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Don't look now but it happened. Ron Paul may have been a fringe candidate before, but he has moved into a statistical tie for the lead in Iowa, where the first contest will be held in just a matter of weeks. Is he surprised--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (Republican Presidential Candidate/R-Texas): Not so much. I think we've been there a long time. I think they've been in denial.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Nor is he bashful about where he says our economic problems begin--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: The Federal Reserve is immoral. It's unconstitutional and it's a disaster.

BOB SCHIEFFER: As for foreign policy and a strong national defense--

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Big military spending diminishes our defense. I'd much rather see that money spent at home.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He's with us to talk about that and a lot more. Then we'll turn to the deepening Washington gridlock over taxes and the deficit. We'll hear from Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Pat Toomey, a member of the so-called supercommittee that's grappling with that. And we'll bring in West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who has his own ideas about the messed Congress's end as we explore the broader question. Is all this the reason that Paris Hilton, according to some polls, is now more popular than Congress?


ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We begin this morning with Congressman Ron Paul. The polls, Mister Paul, suggest that you're now in the thick of it out in Iowa; basically in a statistical tie with Romney, with Cain, and with Mister Gingrich. So I want to ask you some questions. Now that you're among the front-runners, we need to know more about your positions on the issues. And I want to start with foreign policy because your statements over the years posted on your website and elsewhere some of the things you have said in the debates suggest that you believe that 9/11 happened because of actions that the United States took. Is that correct?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (Republican Presidential Candidate/R-Texas): Oh, I-- I-- I think there's an influence. And that's exactly what, you know, the 9/11 Commission said. That's what the DOD has said. And that's also what the CIA has said and that's what a lot of researchers have said. And just remember immediately after 9/11 we removed the base from Saudi Arabia. So there is a connection. That doesn't do the whole full explanation. But our policies definitely had an influence. And you talk to the people who committed it and those individuals who would like to do us harm, they say, yes, we don't like American bombs to be falling on our country. And we don't like the intervention that we do in their nations. So to deny this I think is very dangerous. But to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we're free and prosperous I think is a very, very dangerous notion because it's not true.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I-- I would-- I would question the import of what some of those commissions found that-- that you've cited there. But basically what you're saying, Mister Paul, is that it was America's fault that 9/11 happened and it was our fault that it happened?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: No. I-- I think that's-- I think that's a misco-- misconstruing of what I'm saying because America is you and I. And we didn't cause it. The average American didn't cause it. But if you have a flawed policy, it may influence it. When Ronald Reagan went in to Lebanon, he was deeply-- he deeply regretted this because he said if he'd been more neutral those Marines wouldn't have died in Lebanon because the policy was flawed. The same thing that McNamara said after the Vietnam War. He wrote in his memoirs that, you know, if-- if he would have changed-- if it-- if we don't learn from our policies, it won't be worth anything. So I'm saying policies have an effect. But that's a far cry from blaming America.