As Ron Paul falls farther and farther behind in the Republican race for the presidential nomination, there’s one area in which most of the American public increasingly is in full agreement with the congressman from Texas: the war in Afghanistan.
Rep. Paul may have failed to win any GOP primary elections or caucuses, and he may be way behind in accumulating delegates to the party convention in August (Mitt Romney has more than 10 times as many), but that hasn’t stopped the idealistic libertarian from speaking critically of his own party.
"The truth is, I'm trying to save the Republican Party from themselves because they want perpetual wars; they don't care about presidents who assassinate American citizens; they don't care about searching our houses without search warrants," Paul said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
In fact, many Americans also find troubling current government policy regarding warrantless searches and killing American citizens who have aligned themselves with terrorists bent on attacking the US.
But it is the war that’s gone on for more than 10 years in Afghanistan – a war that is not going particularly well and that has seen a series of incidents where supposed Afghan allies have killed US service personnel – where the public’s agreement with Paul seems most evident.
The assertion is based on the latest New York Times/CBS poll, which finds that opposition to the war jumped from 53 percent four months ago to 69 percent today.
Weariness with the war crosses party lines. While Republicans are more inclined to support the war, 60 percent say the war is going very or somewhat badly, and only about 30 percent of Republicans surveyed said the US should stay in Afghanistan.
Other polls show similar tracking.
Last June, Americans were evenly split on US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Today, Pew finds the withdraw-stay split to be 57-35 percent.
Gallup finds Americans divided 2-to-1 regarding troop withdrawal. Half of those surveyed want an accelerated withdrawal while just 24 percent say the US should stick to its current 2014 timetable.
In a floor speech in the House of Representatives recently, Paul warned that if the US isn’t out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, “we’ll be there for another decade.”
“The American people are now with us,” he said, and on that point he’s increasingly correct.
On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Paul also spoke of what is widely seen as his cordial relationship with GOP front-runner Romney
“I like Mitt Romney as a person. I think he’s a dignified person," Paul said. "But I have no common ground on economics. He doesn’t worry about the Federal Reserve. He doesn’t worry about foreign policy. He doesn’t talk about civil liberties, so I would have a hard time to expect him to ever invite me to campaign with him.”
Paul also says he hasn’t decided whether he’d vote for Romney in the general election.