WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul said Sunday the apparent overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya does not justify U.S. involvement there and may end up delivering al-Qaida what he called "another prize."
The Texas congressman has made his mark in the presidential race as a strict libertarian who would scale back the role of the federal government in domestic and foreign affairs. A recent Gallup poll shows him in third place in the GOP race for the presidency.
Asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether getting rid of Gadhafi was a good thing, Paul conceded that it was but added that Gadhafi's departure did not mean the long-term result would be good for the United States. He said that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was also good, but that the long-term result in Iraq has not been a success for the U.S.
"We've delivered Iraq to the Iranians," he said.
Paul said troops are already required to ensure order in Libya and that no one knows who the rebels in Libya represent.
"We have no idea of what's going to come out of Libya. I'm very skeptical," he said.
Paul said U.S. foreign policy should be focused on national security. Instead, he said, its foreign policy has drifted toward picking dictators around the world.
He said he resents the power that has flowed to the executive branch and the judiciary.
"I want to obey the Constitution and follow its very great restrictions on the government," he said.
Paul's disdain for government interaction continued with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has worked to help people along the East Coast deal with Hurricane Irene. He called the concept of FEMA a gross distortion of what insurance is supposed to provide and that it encourages people to build in unsafe areas, namely along beaches.
"FEMA has been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever," Paul said. "You can't imagine how many calls we get because FEMA is getting in the way and they can't get their checks, they can't get their bailout."