May 3, 2008
Flags, signs, bumper stickers and buttons were distributed to the crowd, who were ready to make a sensation in support of their favorite political candidate, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas). When the long-shot contender for the Republican presidential ticket showed up to speak at Goucher as part of the President’s Forum, Kraushaar Auditorium didn’t even have standing room left.
They gave him a standing ovation before he even opened his mouth, and clapped during his speech more than 20 times.
And then, after listening to his libertarian ideas for over an hour, they heard him say Democratic-hopeful Barack Obama would win the rat race to the White House.
The rest of the talk, which was not written down, was a fairly run-of-the-mill campaign stump speech. Though running for the Republican nomination, he distanced himself from the party and its contemporary hawkish ways.
“The sad part is… if you don’t support it – vote against the PATRIOT Act, you’re unpatriotic. You vote against the war, you vote against the troops,” he said. “They turn it and twist it around. I have come to the firm conclusion that you can be conservative, libertarian, institutionalist – a good American and vote against the war and still be a patriot.”
His focus was on his non-interventionist foreign policy stance. He said the nation needs to focus on issues within its own borders and get out of other places – Iraq and the Middle East but also Korea, Japan and Germany.
“All empires end for financial reasons,” he said. “The Soviet Union… bankrupted themselves and one place where they really bankrupted themselves was their fruitless efforts in Afghanistan – you’d think we’d learn a lesson or two.”
The crowd was very receptive to Paul’s ideas – it interrupted him many times to applaud and every once in a while, a couple people standing in the back were seen waving full-size American flags.
Among the hundreds of people there were students, middle aged parents with their young children and older people.
Paul, however, is not the politician most Goucher students endorse. Many were there out of curiosity to hear what he would have to say, and what his supporters would do.
“I told my mom I was coming to see him and she was like ‘Oh my God, that’s the lunatic fringe!'” senior international relations major Lindsey Rich said.
Others were thrilled that he was coming. Before Paul came on stage, sophomore Emily Adams introduced him to the crowd. Adams is one of Paul’s more vocal supporters on campus and was asked by college president Sanford J. Ungar to introduce him at the event.
Paul’s speech lasted a little less than 40 minutes and ended with another standing ovation. After the speech, about 30 people raced to get in line behind microphones to ask questions of the presidential hopeful. This was the first time there was any sign that not all members of the crowd supported him.
Questions about abortion and women’s rights drew applause in favor of the students who asked, rather than the answers the Congressman gave. Though Paul is pro-life, he said he objected to the federal government’s involvement in the issue at all.
One of the themes of his speech was getting the federal government out of more issues. He wants to return to the text that is in the Constitution, rather than the big government he thinks we currently have. Though current American foreign policy, he says, is what convinced him to run for president again after his failed effort in 1988, individual liberties are what matter most.
“The big issue for me is individual liberty,” he said. “I believe that’s what’s been neglected in this country for a hundred years plus. I believe the Founders understood this issue, understood what limited government is all about and gave us a pretty darn good Constitution which unfortunately we have ignored.”
“We need more production, we need sound money, we need less taxes, we need a sensible foreign policy and [a new system] emphasizing personal liberty where creative energy would be released not suppressed.”
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