This story was written by Brad Maxwell, The Daily Gamecock
Freedom rang Friday night, Nov. 2 as hundreds of Columbians gathered at the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater in South Carolina to support Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul.
"They love the idea of freedom," the Texas congressman said about the American public.
Commonly seen as a Republican outlier, Paul's "constitutionalist" views call for an end to income tax, a withdrawal of U.S. troops from all over the world and drastic cuts in government spending.
With a campaign that has grown primarily through word of mouth and the Internet, much of Paul's support comes from a diverse group of people and many young people, said Jose Correa, the campaign's South Carolina field director.
"Young people are very astute to the mass media and not as conditioned. The campaign is growing exponentially," Correa said.
Sarah Holton, a fourth-year chemical engineering student, attended the rally with a group of her friends from USC and said the campaign is "so grassroots."
Tyler Price, a second-year electrical engineering student and leader of a Ron Paul student group, said he attracts a diversity of voters because of the variety of ideas he represents.
Price said his supporters are usually the most adamant of any other candidate and most likely to come out and vote.
"We know everybody here is going to vote," Price said.
Holton said she grew up a Democrat, but her libertarian leanings prompted her to "come out and give him a chance."
"He's a politician, but doesn't act like a politician," Holton said.
Josh Sutherland, a fourth-year marketing student, said that many younger voters support Paul because of his stance on social security and income tax.
"His ideas are vastly different and he has maintained his voting record," Sutherland said.
Paul said that if elected he would allow young people to opt out of social security and get rid of the Internal Revenue Service.
"We have the right to keep all the fruits of our labor," Paul said. "Let's return the responsibility of our lives to us."
Paul said that unlike most Republicans, his conservative ideas extend beyond fiscal and domestic arenas and into foreign policy.
"We do not have to be the policeman of the world," Paul said. "We can't force our values on other people at the point of a gun."
He proposed bringing troops home immediately from Iraq and from other parts of the world like Korea, South America and Europe.
"It's time to come home," Paul said.
He also said that if he were president, he would never go to war without congressional permission and never under United Nations resolutions.
Paul also opposes torture, national identification cards and the Patriot Act.
"Something has to be done rather quickly to turn this country around," Paul said. He emphasized that a return to the basics of the constitution would be the solution.
"Freedom works," Paul said.
© 2007 The Daily Gamecock via U-WIRE