Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate from Texas who runs his campaign based on a platform of libertarian "revolution," greeted a full auditorium of student and community supporters at the University of Pittsburgh's Bellefield Hall Thursday night.
When the rally opened with chants of "Ron Paul" and a standing ovation, Paul said, "It sounds like the revolution has arrived in Pittsburgh."
Although John McCain has nearly secured the Republican presidential nomination, Paul asked supporters to buy his new book, "The Revolution: A Manifesto," to bring more attention to his campaign. He said the media ignores his presidential bid, but that other candidates have admitted Paul has many enthusiastic supporters.
"Even though we have not been showing up at the polls like we can and should and will, we have enthusiasm," Paul said.
During his speech, which was sponsored by Pitt's College Republicans, Paul emphasized the importance of protecting personal liberties, maintaining confidence in the free market, and reforming the economic system by eliminating "illegal" income taxes, government-produced inflation and the Federal Reserve.
"I didn't realize that people your age knew so much about money and inflation," Paul said. "But it gets the largest applause at college campuses. I figured the first time it happened it was an accident - it was at the University of Southern California. But then at the University of Michigan, they started to burn Federal Reserve notes."
Paul also compared the "war on drugs" to the Prohibition Era, both of which he called absolute failures. He said that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent and prisoners committing nonviolent acts are kept in jail for years, only to prevent people from using a drug that may have medical benefits.
"If we can't come to our senses about marijuana, we won't be able to have a sensible foreign policy," Paul said.
Paul called for an "International Golden Rule" in which the United States would "mind its own business." He said that taking U.S. troops out of the 130 countries in which they are stationed would save billions of dollars and force diplomacy.
Paul also called for an end of all sanctions against Cuba and against entering into global alliances such as the proposed North American Union. He said that one of the most important problems is border control and that the United States should end any amnesties for illegal immigrants.
As for the war in Iraq, Paul said it was a huge mistake.
"Should we have gone into Iraq? Absolutely not," he said. "They didn't attack us."
He said that the war was illegal because the Constitution mandates that only Congress has the right to declare war.
Paul criticized international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank. He referenced a recent vote against legislation that would send $40 billion to Africa to fight tuberculosis and AIDS.
Paul said that even if the United States could afford such a donation, it would get in the hands of military rulers and dictators. The real problem, he said, is that the United States doesn't have that money to spend.
"We spend a trillion dollars a year maintaining our empire around the world," Paul said at a press event before his speech. "We are moving into a weaker economy. I think it's going to get worse."
Paul said that individuals should get their taxes back, and that if elected, he wants to offer ways for people to "get out" of the health care and Social Security systems.
He explained that the government is in so much debt that the value of the dollar has decreased - and if the government required taxpayers to pay offthe debt, there would be a revolt.
In response, some audience members cried out, "Revolution!"
Mike Conley, a sophomore at Pitt, said that although he is registered Democrat, he thought Paul had a lot of good things to say, especially about the economy.
"It's amazing that a politician will tell you the truth and not what you want to hear," he said.
Conley said that the biggest problem he had with Paul was that the candidate is pro-life, but Conley would consider voting for him in the election anyway.
Eric Foster, a Ron Paul fan from Belle Vernon, said that even if Paul doesn't secure the nomination, he will vote for Paul as a write-in candidate.
Originally from Green Tree, near Pittsburgh, Paul graduated from Gettysburg College and trained to be an obstetrician/gynecologist at Magee Womens Hospital. He met his wife, Carol, when they went to high school together in Dormont.
At the press event, Paul said that his Pittsburgh upbringing taught him about the working class.
"It was work. We didn't get any handouts," he said.
© 2008 The Pitt News via U-WIRE