Rep. Ron Paul speaks to supporters at a rally in Pahrump, Nev. (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)
Reporting from Pahrump, Nev. — It is hard to believe that anyone who follows politics could possibly need more evidence that Ron Paul isn't like the rest of Washington.
But just in case his basic platform -- bring back the gold standard, crush the Federal Reserve system, get all of our troops back home tomorrow and end the war on drugs -- isn't enough, all you need to do is listen to him on the campaign trail when the Department of Labor releases a jobs report.
Like today. The job market strengthened. Employers hired more workers than expected. And GOP front-runner Mitt Romney lost no time slamming President Obama because the good news just wasn't good enough.
"We welcome the fact that jobs were created and unemployment declined," Romney said in a rapid-fire press release shortly after the jobs numbers were released. "Unfortunately, these numbers cannot hide the fact that President Obama's policies have prevented a true economic recovery."
In a broadcast interview, Newt Gingrich derided the positive jobs report as "irrelevant" and predicted that Obama was "not going to be able to go to the public and say, 'Look how successful I've been.' The most he'll be able to say is, 'I'm less destructive than I was a year ago.'"
Paul's response? Silence, even though he's campaigning in beleaguered Nevada, the state with the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in America.
Oh, he talked, for a good 25 minutes in front of an enthusiastic audience here in rural Nye County, the only county in all of Nevada that he won back in 2008. He just didn't talk about the news of the day. Or pay any heed to his competitors in the race for the White House. Or give the president more than passing mention.
"I quite frequently criticize the administration," he insisted at a noontime rally in Pahrump, a low-slung, sand-colored town of 36,000 or so. "But I also criticize many administrations going back a good many years. This mess didn't come on overnight. It didn't come up just over the last three years.
"It's come up because we as a country have lost our total conviction that we ought to have only people represent us in Washington who have actually read the Constitution, believe in it and voted that way."
There are times, in fact, that Paul sounds like he's actually running against Woodrow Wilson, who became president in 1913 – the beginning of the end in Paul's worldview.
"There's a couple things in 1913," Paul told about 200 supporters gathered in a repurposed roller-skating rink. "The first thing to introduce the age of big government was this rejection of the founders' notion that we shouldn't have an income tax. I'd like to restore that because we shouldn't need an income tax.
"Also in that same fateful year, we had the introduction of the notion that government should institute central banking and allow the central bank to print money when the government ran out of money," Paul said, sounding even more professorial than usual. "And this has led to our economic problems. This has led to the size of our government. It has led to a method of paying for the things we do overseas that we shouldn't be doing."
Brian Becker, 36, is a fan of Paul for many reasons, not the least of which is the 12-term congressman's belief that the United States should return to the gold standard.
"Our currency used to be backed by gold and silver," said the much-tattooed Becker, as he waited for the candidate to arrive. "Now it's not backed by anything. It's just paper promises."
Becker also supports the grandfather of 18 because of Paul's belief in individual liberties. Like the right to bear arms. Strapped to Becker's belt was a loaded Sig Sauer P229 handgun, and he wasn't the only man in the audience packing heat on this bright afternoon.
Becker and his friend Frank Smith, 38, both work at Pahrump's Ammo Supply Warehouse, and both of their pistols were loaded.
"You wouldn't want to wear one unloaded," Becker said. "From a practical standpoint, you have it, you're allowed to use it, you never know when you'll need it."
The libertarian-leaning candidate's next stop? A meet-and-greet with Gun Owners for Ron Paul at American Shooters in Las Vegas.