Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul told NBC's Matt Lauer Monday that he has a mainstream candidacy.

"You've said recently that 'the time has come around that people are agreeing with much of what I've been saying for 30 years,'" Lauer noted in his interview with Paul. "I would adjust the word 'much' of what you've been saying to 'some' of what you've been saying, but what do you think is one specific issue that connects you to voters at this time that makes this the right time for Ron Paul?"

"It's endless undeclared, unwinnable wars dumped on the young people and also the financial crisis we have," Paul replied. "And that's why the next generation, the young people from the ages 15 and 25 or 30, they're with me, they're getting dumped on, and that to me is the big issue."

"You know, congressman, your name comes up an awful lot when I talk politics with friends and one of the things I hear about you over and over again is that people say 'I like some of his ideas but I'm nervous about the total package,'" Lauer noted. "Because you're a guy who's called for legalizing all drugs including cocaine and heroin, legalizing prostitution. You want to eliminate about half of the federal agencies including Energy, Education, Health and Human services, the Department of Homeland Security. So how do you convince people that you are not just an interesting fringe candidate?"

"To not portray it like you have just done," Paul said. "I want to legalize freedom. What's so bad about that? What's wrong with legalizing choices about your life and your liberty and religious values? What's wrong with legalizing the Constitution? I can defend everything I do by the Constitution. So why can you turn that around and say everything he's doing is nuts and crazy?"

"I think a growing number of people are starting to realize what I'm talking about is pretty sound," Paul added. "It's very American. It produces prosperity and peace and I'm always bewildered why anyone would reject it."

Watch this video from NBC's Today Show, uploaded June 20, 2011.

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