Reporting from Topeka, Kan. —
Hoping to improve on his third-place finish in the Kansas caucuses in 2008, Ron Paul was scheduled to make three campaign stops on Friday and planned to visit four caucuses on Saturday to deliver five-minute synopses of his libertarian agenda.
Citing the nation's wars, its struggling economy and its failing educational system, Paul told more than 400 sign-toting supporters in the state capital: "These problems could be solved by just following the Constitution, and that is what we really need."
Paul delivered his paean to limited government from the stage of the Topeka Performing Arts Center, a monument from a depressed era when big government was much more in favor and out-of-work Americans welcomed stimulus spending. The city building was completed in 1940 with a $7-million grant from the federal Works Progress Administration.
The Texas congressman, who has an organized campaign in Kansas, was introduced as "the champion of the Constitution" by a supporter who urged: "We must stand up and be counted." Next to the stage, a handwritten sign said: "Vote Ron Paul Get A Free Country."
Four years ago, Paul won 11% of the vote, finishing behind Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ariz. Sen. John McCain, the eventual nominee. He won more than three times as many votes as the fourth place finisher, Mitt Romney, who is the GOP front-runner in the delegate count.
Paul, wearing a suit and tie and appearing small on the enormous stage, outlined his astringent view of the federal government, which, as his supporters invariably note, has not changed since he first entertained politics in the 1970s, demanding the dollar be tied to the price of gold.
"Liberty, that's the issue of the day," he said, joined on stage by his wife and two granddaughters. "The American people want more individual freedom, not more government."
Levi Vincent, a 31-year-old master sergeant in the Air Force National Guard, said he became a Paul supporter after the Federal Reserve reduced the interest rate and he lost about $8,000 in the commodities market. He watched YouTube videos and concluded: "All his stances are in line with the Constitution. That's something I appreciated."
Vincent, who served 11 years in the Air Force, was wearing a "Veterans for Ron Paul" T-shirt. "I saw that he was constant over his entire career," he said.
"He always says yes or no, and he means it," said Heather Woods, a 28-year-old stay-at-home mother of four, who was wearing a "Students for Ron Paul" T-shirt from four years ago.
Woods said she was disappointed he was not doing better in the Republican presidential race so far. "It's a downer. I'm not going to lie about that," she said, saying she still plans to vote for him because she does not want to compromise her principles. "I feel like right now he's the only one who's true to what he says and I can trust that."
Paul walked the appreciative audience through his plans to reduce the size of government, calling for an end to the federal income tax, the Federal Reserve and the federal role in education, and a return to legal tender based on silver and gold.
He also stressed he would make real cuts in the federal government: $1 trillion dollars. "Unfortunately, today, the spending is not being cut and I want to cut a lot and we have to know where to cut and I think it's across the board," he said.
He also called for a restrained foreign policy and criticized calls for military action against Syria and Iran. "And who's urging them on? The other Republican candidates," he said.
Paul said that that nation needed a strong defense, but if it had to go to war, it should win quickly and come home. Paul insisted that the presidential candidate who promised peace had always won, even if some, such as President Nixon, did not "do a very good job."
"Guess what? Our current president was the peace candidate," he said, pointing out that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. "He snuck into office as the peace candidate."
Original source: Ron Paul seeks breakthrough in Kansas caucuses