Republican presidential candidates Perry, Paul and Huntsman talk during a break in the presidential primary debate
Texas Governor Rick Perry (L), Rep. Ron Paul, (R-TX) (R) and former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman talk during a break in the presidential primary debate in California, Sept. 7, 2011. Reuters

Ron Paul wishes the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night had delved deeper into national security and the 9/11 aftermath.

“They touched a little bit on whether we’re a safer country than we were 10 years ago…but I think there could have been a lot more to that discussion,” Paul told the Des Moines Register on Thursday.

“Have we really changed? Are we a lot safer? Have we learned anything? I think that to me is a very important issue.”

Paul opposes the Patriot Act --security measures imposed by the George W. Bush administration in response to the terrorist attacks-- and has suggested the measures have worsened security, not eased it.

The 76-year-old Texas congressman also told the paper that the debate should have focused more on the economy and jobs creation – but added he was pleased with his appearance.

“Anytime I got a chance to express the overall philosophy of limited government and sticking to principles and the Constitution, the [audience] responded,” he said.

“The frustration to me last night was some of the very important things that are my key issues … they almost seemed to not want me to talk about. I really didn’t have much chance to talk about foreign policy and they asked other people about the Federal Reserve.”

Paul has been a critic of the central bank. During a 2007 congressional hearing, he said: “This whole notion that a central bank somehow has the wisdom to know what interest rates should be is, to me, rather bizarre. And also the source of so much mischief.