Ron Paul Says Head Start Is Not Constitutional, But Wouldn't Eliminate It

Paul Has Heated Exchange Over Government Program

Ron Paul appeared on several morning shows following his strong second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, and was pressed on whether he would eliminate federal programs that help low-income children.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Time's Mark Halperin asked him whether he thought Head Start, the program run by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote school readiness for low-income children, is constitutional.

"It's not constitutional, but I wouldn't put that on the list," he said. "You know, if we want a perfectly free society, you can't wave a wand and get everything you want. So you have to work our way out of this."

"You know, Social Security, and these other programs are unconstitutional, but I'm only -- I believe I'm the only one that has a program that would protect us so that we can work our way out of it," he continued, then turning the discussion to his proposal to audit the Federal Reserve.

Halperin interrupted Paul. "But if you had your way, you'd eliminate Head Start," he said.

"You're just putting words in my mouth," the congressman responded. "I don't know what your goal is. I just explained myself very clearly."

Paul has made similar statements about programs such as the Peace Corps and Americorps, which pay for short-term service abroad or in the United States. But he has also said he would not make it a priority to eliminate such programs.

Later in the interview, "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough asked Paul what Congress should do to reduce the deficit, something current representatives failed to deliver to the people who elected them in 2010, he said.

"Joe, what they need is a backbone," Paul said of Congressional members. "That's what they need and they need to wake up and the people need to wake up to Congress."

Though Paul's message played well in libertarian-minded New Hampshire, he faces a more difficult challenge in the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, with a strong evangelical Christian base. Paul finished a distant fifth in the state during his 2008 campaign.

Still, he continues to assert that he is electable as both the nominee and president.

"I've been electable. I've won 12 elections already," he said on CBS. "It's amazing that I do so much better than those other candidates that are all electable. They're in fourth, fifth and sixth place and they're electable. All of a sudden they say I'm not electable. I don't know how that adds up."

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