(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)
Many pundits view Ron Paul's candidacy as the most controversial among GOP voters. His brand of conservatism, highlighted by his return to the gold standard and protectionist ideas have attracted a throng of loyal followers but the one issue that concerns many is his stance on Israel and the Middle East.
Speaking on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Paul tried to clear up the misconception that he would allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.
"That would be my goal, too," Congressman Paul said addressing President Obama's comment that "nothing would be off the table" in dealing with Iran. "I don't want them to have a nuclear weapon, it's just the approach" in preventing Iran from going after nuclear weapons capability.
What he believes should happen first is that the U.S. should enter into a dialogue with Iran before considering military action.
"My argument is, when the Soviets (during the height of the Cold War) had 30,000 of these [nuclear weapons], we didn't take talking to them off the table, or even with the Chinese," Paul noted. "We started talking to them and started trading with them, and the results were much better."
Paul first began to concern Republicans with his foreign policy positions last year during the Western Republican Presidential Debate. It was there that he mentioned cutting aid to Israel.
"To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries, and it becomes weapons of war," said Paul.
When asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if he would then cut foreign aid to Israel, Paul said, "I would cut all foreign aid."
"I would treat everybody equally and fairly. I don't think aid to Israel helps them."
The Texas Congressman often introduces himself as a "champion of liberty." However, his response sent chill bumps down the arms of many GOP voters who heard or read about his comments.
"On foreign aid – that should be the easiest thing to cut," said Paul at the same debate. "It is not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to someone else."
But if potential supporters have any hesitancy to support Paul based on his foreign policy statements, the 76 year-old congressman claims such concerns are unnecessary.
"In October 1981, most of the world and most of Congress voiced outrage over Israel's attack on Iran and their nuclear development. I was one of the few who defended her right to make her own decisions and to act in her own self-interest," explained Paul.
Still others are saying that Paul's comments are simply misunderstood and that the reason he opposes such foreign aid goes back to his fiscal positions. Paul has supported such assumptions by highlighting on numerous occasions that the nation is bankrupt and that Israel's dependency on U.S. aid is "a bad risk" for them.
"I think their dependency on us is very, very harmful to them," Paul told ABC news.
In the most recent polls, Paul is in last place with approximately 12 percent of the national vote in the Real Clear Politics average. Paul says he has no intention of dropping out of the race and like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, is committed to getting as many delegates as possible before the GOP convention convenes in late summer of this year.