Republican Ron Paul began his 36-minute speech at Union Station Saturday night with what he called the shorthand version of what his presidential campaign is all about.
“The Constitution!” Paul shouted.
“End the Fed.”
“Equal justice under the law.”
“Repeal the president’s power to assassinate American citizens.”
With each phrase, the crowd, which numbered in the hundreds and possibly into the low thousands, roared back their approval.
“If freedom is the answer and big government is the problem, what we have to do is convince the people that it is in their best interest to defend liberty,” the Texas congressman said.
Paul, 76, is running fourth in most polls for the GOP nomination. But his followers claim to be the most fervent, and Saturday night their cheers echoed loudly through the crowded North Waiting Room. Several predicted afterward that Paul backers would flock to the Kansas presidential caucuses on March 10 and the Missouri caucuses one week later on March 17.
“After seeing tonight, I feel very sure (turnout) will be huge,” said Matthew Heard of Kansas City. “It’s starting to have a snowball effect.”
Taking the temporary stage, Paul called the crowd size energizing:
“The revolution has arrived. It gives me a great sense of confidence that we are winning the battle.”
Known in Congress as “Dr. No.,” Paul insists that he never votes for laws he doesn’t believe are authorized by the Constitution. He has opposed the Patriot Act, favors relaxingrestrictions on illegal drugs and has opposed federal relief even when his district was damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005. He sees little role for the U.S. overseas.
Paul said the country is “slipping into a fascist system where it’s a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.”
He said the country can no longer afford its entitlement system of free education, health care and housing.
“Right now people are waking up to the fact that the government is broke, and they know it’s ending.”