Rep. Ron Paul doesn't think much of Donald Trump's dismissal of his viability as a presidential candidate.
“I don't know whether he has earned the, you know, the right to criticize someone for winning an election, because I don't know how many elections he's won so far,” the Texas Republican said sharply on CNN’s American Morning today.
Trump said Thursday that Paul had "zero chance" of getting elected president in 2012 -- and then two days later, Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference's presidential straw poll for the second year in a row.
Paul acknowledged on MSNBC's Morning Joe today that winning would be “very, very difficult,” saying that “the difficulty is more in getting Republicans to believe in small government.”
He argued, however, that his appeal lies among independents and progressive Democrats who are disappointed in President Obama for his economic and foreign policy.
Among other things, Paul said his tenure in Congress is evidence enough that his ideas are taking hold.
“They told me that when I first started running for Congress, ‘There's no way you can run on that platform. You're just sort of obsessed with this Constitution and you live in the dark ages, you can't be elected.’” he said. “I was elected 11 times.”
The momentum for him and for his ideas is growing, he said. “I mean, it's growing by leaps and bounds, which is very encouraging to me and puts more pressure on me just not to take a rest for a while, either,” Paul said on CNN.
Asked about winning the CPAC straw poll, Paul said, “Maybe because some young people like the message of freedom. I talk a different message than other candidates. I talk about personal liberty, personal choices, which is something the others don't talk about.”
Though he didn’t announce his candidacy, Paul said he is “still thinking about it.”
Paul, who has been criticized by his counterparts for not being socially conservative enough, said his ideas about freedom apply everywhere.
“If I have conservative values, I just happen to accept the fact you can't compel people to do it -- you can't compel other nations to live the way we want and you can't compel individuals,” he said.
“I want people not to use drugs, but I think it's a responsibility of the parents and the community and the church. And no matter how much compulsion, you know, prohibition doesn't work.”