Paul exhorts 1,500 Mo supporters to hold fast, fight for liberty
BRANSON — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who continues to be a thorn in the side of his party and presumptive nominee John McCain, said Friday night that he won’t endorse McCain or campaign for him.
“I can’t support anybody who supports the war,” Paul said, in a brief interview while he signed hundreds of copies of his book brought to Friday night’s “Freedom Rally” by some of his supporters.
Paul reaffirmed, however, that he won’t conduct a third-party candidacy.
About 1,500 turned out Friday night to hear Paul for an hour at the Tri-Lakes Center. (The estimate came from the building manager; yours truly counted at least 1,000.)
“We need to lead the Republican Party kicking and screaming back to its senses,” he said, in remarks that prompted repeated standing ovations.
Many of those ovations came as Paul laid out his key views:
End the war in Iraq;
Repeal the Patriot Act;
Get rid of the federal income tax;
Eliminate the Federal Reserve Bank;
Get the U.S. out of the UN;
Get the U.S. out of the World Bank, the IMF and other international bodies;
Slash federal spending;
Paul blasted the Bush administration for the way it has attacked terrorism. The U.S. either gives money to countries, or attacks them, he said. The U.S. rarely just talks to nations, Paul added.
The Bush administration seems to focus on bombing countries “incapable of attacking us,” he said, using Iraq as Exhibit A.
Referring to former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein, Paul said, “As bad as he was, he wasn’t a threat to us.”
Paul accused the administration of using terrorists and the war as an excuse to eliminate personal rights.
“…We don’t need secret courts and secret prisons,” he said. “…They say we’re being attacked because we’re free and rich. Their thinking seems to be ‘if we’re less free, they won’t attack us…’ “
Paul also called for a return to habeas corpus (The guaranteed right for a person to go before a judge when charged with a crime.)
Several hundred of the Paul supporters in Branson are to be delegates Saturday morning at the state Republican Party’s once-every-four-years convention.
The delegates and alternates had a private meeting with Paul and his state leaders late Friday night, presumably to discuss how to proceed. About half of the pro-Paul delegates have been challenged by state GOP leaders, so it’s up to the convention to decide if any of them get seated.
In his address, Paul blamed the rise in gasoline prices and the shipping of jobs overseas, in part, to monetary problems that have weakened the U.S. dollar.
“We owe $13 trillion to foreigners,” he said.
He blasted what he called a “flawed monetary system, a flawed economic system…a flawed foreign policy that has to be changed.”
Before the rally, state Treasurer Sarah Steelman stopped by to talk to Paul supporters milling in the lobby as they waited for the doors to open to the auditorium where the rally was held.
Steelman, a Republican running for governor, said later that she did so to appeal for their votes.