There’s a "zero percent" benefit to having U.S. troops stay any longer in Iraq, Republican candidate for president Ron Paul said Tuesday in Las Vegas.
The Texas congressman, in Las Vegas campaigning for votes as the Jan. 19 presidential caucuses near, said for the United States "to stay there because we’re there doesn’t seem logical when we went there for an illegitimate reason."
No connection existed between Iraq and the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, he said.
Paul, the only Republican running for president who opposes the war, told the editorial board of the Review-Journal that the continued loss of lives with the huge financial cost of the conflict "is something we cannot afford."
"We couldn’t even be over there without borrowing money from places like China," he said.
Paul, a 72-year-old country doctor who once ran for president as the nominee of the Libertarian Party, garnered 5 percent of the vote of Republicans in a Review-Journal poll conducted in December. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson were viewed more favorably by Republicans around the state.
Tuesday, Paul did what he always does: Stake out positions far from the standard Republican Party line. He said the war in Iraq is making it easier for Osama bin Laden to recruit terrorists. Occupying a Muslim country and killing Muslims, he said, only results in more young Arabs wanting to destroy America.
Paul has said the "nation building" plan to take over $30 trillion worth of oil in the region while building permanent bases has not materialized because the aggressive action has united many in the region to oppose such an occupation.
He wants U.S. military bases around the world to be closed.
The war in Iraq, with U.S. troops stationed around the world, is largely fueling the country’s $9.1 trillion debt, he said.
Until the war ends, he said, the country cannot start to get on solid economic footing.