Moderator Bret Baier started the discussion with a question directed at Paul: What would he do, as president, if presented with intelligence showing that Iran had a nuclear weapon? And, by opposing economic sanctions against Iran, is he running to the left of President Obama?
Ron Paul: "You know what I really fear? ... It's another Iraq coming. It's war propaganda going on," he said. "To me, the greatest danger is that we will have a president that will overreact."
He likened the current situation to views of Iraq in 2003: an atomosphere of alarm without solid evidence on the question of weapons capability. "If we lived through cold war, which we did, with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, we ought to really sit back and think, and not jump the gun.... That’s how we got involved in the useless war in Iraq and lost so much."
Similar to his position on Iraq back then, he voiced skepticism that Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon. Paul said it's also important for US policymakers to keep the regional context in mind: Iran feels surrounded by other nations that have nuclear arms, and has seen evidence that nuclear nations get some respect.
Regarding sanctions, he called them an "act of war" that could damage the European economy by diminishing the flow of oil.
Rick Santorum: The former senator from Pennsylvania got a chance to respond to Paul's view, and hit back hard. Iran has essentially been "at war with us since 1979," he argued, citing Iran as a factory for the IED bombs that killed many US soldiers in Iraq.