Ron Paul calls rival GOP candidates 'chicken hawks'

Charlie Riedel/AP

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.—Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says that recent shifts by some of his rivals on the Afghanistan war are a sign that he’s “winning the fight” with his signature hands-off foreign policy.

Paul won standing ovations from some 4,600 people on Wednesday night at a University of Illinois rally--his largest turnout ever--for his calls to "bring our troops home!" He also told the crowd, made up mostly of college students, that “the other candidates on our side are saying we need to fight more wars.”

Asked by CBS News/National Journal about recent comments by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum that the United States should review its commitment in Afghanistan and possibly back off, Paul replied, “It’s about time.”

“But they’re what we call chicken hawks. And they talk a lot, they push the wars, they themselves haven’t gone, and they don’t serve, and yet they … promote the wars," he said of his rivals, who talk often of taking military action against Iran to keep it from getting a nuclear weapon.

"Sure, the politics are changing, and that’s great. We’re changing people’s minds. The American people are sick and tired of it," Paul said. "And like I mentioned in my speech, I spent five years trying to prevent the war in Iraq. So if they want to come on board now, fine and dandy. That means we’re winning the fight.”

Paul got chuckles from the gaggle of journalists and close supporters backstage when one reporter asked how he plans to bring home the troops. “By ship,” he said.

A new Gallup Poll shows half of Americans back a faster pullout of troops from Afghanistan than President Obama's timetable of completing a withdrawal by the end of 2014.

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