Ron Paul backs away from criticism of talk radio hosts in Hannity interview

Ron Paul backed away from criticism of conservative talk radio hosts — whom he said were embarrassed by his rise in the polls — during a Tuesday radio interview with Sean Hannity, saying he would have to admit maybe my views have been modified in the past couple of days.

Hannity asked Paul about an interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in which the Republican presidential candidate was asked whether hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin feared his campaign because his views reveal them as the statists they are.

In that interview, Paul agreed with the sentiment, saying that the popular conservative talk show hosts were false prophets of limited government.

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I think that if I gain influence it’s an embarrassment to them because they’re not really limited-government people yet they make their livelihood fooling the people into thinking they’re the real leaders of limited government, Paul said. And when you look at it we find out that they haven’t been. Look at Bush’s eight years. The budget exploded.

At first, Paul seemed unsure that the quote was his.

Is that an exact quote? Paul asked.

Hannity then told Paul that the quote was verbatim and argued that he had a record of conservative opposition to some of former President George W. Bush’s proposals. The Texas congressman said he was encouraged to hear that Hannity was devoted to limited government.

There’s no reason I can’t modify my concerns, because for so long we haven’t been able to make any inroads [toward conservative causes], Paul said. Maybe the various people you mention and I are coming closer together.

But Paul still seemed skeptical that the conservative talk show circuit was truly devoted to reducing the size of government, saying that while Hannity might have opposed expansions, perhaps the other names you mentioned have been less willing to look at scalebacks.

Paul also chided Hannity for his support of military action in the Middle East, arguing that the wars were costly.

There’s pretty good evidence, and people have written about this, that $4 trillion of our debt had to do with overseas expenditures, Paul said. That would not qualify as being conservative … it’s all not food stamps, there’s a lot of other things going on too.

By the end of the interview, Paul jokingly asked Hannity if the pair could be friends, while Hannity said he accepted [Paul’s] apology for not listening to his radio show every day. Hannity then invited the congressman to appear on his television show, an offer the candidate still seemed — perhaps jokingly — skeptical to accept.

OK, well, we’ll always consider that, Paul said before signing off.