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Ron Paul revolution packs Rudder

GOP hopeful visits University hours after Rick Santorum withdraws from race

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

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Presidential candidate Ron Paul speaks to students and supporters in a packed Rudder Auditorium. An overflow audience watched a live feed in the lobby outside.

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Ron Paul speakes Tuesday before 2,500 attendees.

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Roger Zhang - The Battalion

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Students cheer in response to Ron Paul’s promise to reform medical care, decrease financial regulations and limit U.S. military involvement abroad.

An electric atmosphere greeted presidential hopeful Ron Paul Tuesday evening as 2,500 students and supporters filled Rudder Auditorium to hear from the political and cultural icon. With venue seating at a premium, an overflow of 500 supporters lined the hallways in the Rudder complex, viewing a live feed of the speech on TV monitors.

Members of the Paul campaign staff have grown accustomed to large and enthusiastic collegiate receptions, saying they receive turnouts four-to-five times larger than their GOP rivals.

“I’m always asked why the young people care about [me],” Paul said. “And I answer, ‘Well, maybe the young people care about liberty.’”

The evening began with a call to action by Student Body President Jeff Pickering and Youth for Ron Paul Chapter President Billy Yoder to go beyond passive support of the congressman. They stressed the importance of delegates as the only way to get the congressman elected.

Paul thanked the crowd for their warm welcome and voiced enthusiasm for being in Aggieland, a two-and-a-half hour drive from his Lake Jackson home. True to his campaign’s message, Paul anchored his speech to the ideal of restoring liberty to the American people as a means of solving the nation’s current challenges.

Paul validated his foreign policy stances by boasting that he receives more monetary support from active members of the military than all other candidates combined. He reminded attendees that he remains the only candidate with military experience, having served in the Air Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“Thankfully, we didn’t have to resolve the Cuban crisis with nuclear power. … The Soviets collapsed because they overextended themselves,” Paul said. “No one is going to invade this country, this I know. Our greatest threat is at home.”

This is Paul’s third run at the presidency, twice as a Republican and once as a Libertarian in the 1988 race. He reiterated his belief that government should only act within the confines of the U.S. Constitution, charging President Barack Obama and members of  Congress with infringing on fundamental civil rights. He likened recent legislation to the incremental decrease of civil liberties experienced in Nazi Germany.

Touching on the issue of tax increases, the national debt crisis and auditing the Federal Reserve, Paul argued that current policies are suffocating the American economy.

“I’ve been in Washington for a couple of years, and let me tell you, they’re not smart enough to spend your money,” said Paul, whose time in the House of Representatives dates to 1976. “We’ve gotten fat and lazy and think the government will take care of us — this policy will not work. It’s time to get our head out of the sand and face the situation.”

The rally was an opportunity to come home for Linda Paul, the congressman’s granddaughter and junior biomedical science major, who has traveled with Paul on the campaign trail this semester.

“We’ve had this kind of turnout everywhere we go, but to know this crowd is filled with people I know, to see my fellow classmates coming to hear my grandfather speak, is amazing,” Linda said. “Texas is our home, so we love when we are campaigning in our state.”

Elijah Rockers, sophomore electrical engineering major, has been a Paul supporter since 2008. Rockers said Paul’s consistent foreign policy positions and plans to curtail wasteful spending in Washington won his support.

“I think the main thing I don’t like about Romney is his flip-flopping on the issues,” Rockers said. “That’s what I like about Ron Paul — he’s been saying the same thing for 30 years.”

Michael Couvillion, rally attendee and former economics major, described himself as a “hardcore” supporter, convinced by Paul’s voting record and position on the issues.

“If you’re looking for the truth, he’s your guy,” Couvillion said.

The rally coincided with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s decision earlier in the day to bow out of the Republican primary. Asked for a response to the news, Paul said he believed the development to have a positive effect for his campaign.

“I think everyone is pondering what that will do, but I can’t see how it will be harmful,” Paul said. “I’m cautiously hopeful that it will benefit us.”

The delegate count stands strongly in favor of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who leads the field with 661 delegates. Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trail with 285 and 136, respectively, while Paul has 51.

Regardless of the impact of Santorum’s announcement, Paul stipulated that his message and dedication to changing the face of our government would not change.

“Who knows what will happen between now and August? If anything, it’ll just make us work harder,” Paul said. “I’ve been saying the same thing for 30 years — it’s always the same message, so no big plan changes.”

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