Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said Thursday that President George W. Bush's administration was actually happy after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011.

Speaking to about 1,000 students on the Iowa State Campus in Ames, Iowa, Paul explained that the Bush administration was eager to capitalize on the attacks.

"Think of what happened after 9/11, the minute before there was any assessment, there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq, and so the war drums beat," Paul told the crowd, according to Politico. "That’s exactly what they’re doing now with Iran."

"I think extremists have taken over," the Texas Republican said, referring to neoconservatives in the government. "They’re the ones that run the foreign policy and that convinced us as a country to go along with all these wars."

Former Bush-era White House spokesman Ari Fleischer quickly took to Twitter to respond. "The man is nuts," he wrote.

At a CNN/tea party debate the day after the anniversary of 9/11, Paul asserted that al Qaeda was responding to U.S. foreign policy.

“Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked because you had bases on our holy lands in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment,” Paul said before being interrupted by boos from the tea party crowd. “I didn’t say that, I’m just trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombings.”

He later clarified to CBS host Bob Schieffer that he wasn't blaming Americans for the attacks.

"America is you and I. We didn’t cause it. The average American didn’t cause it. [But] if you have a flawed policy, it may influence it."

Watch this video from CBS News, recorded Dec. 8, 2011.