DEARBORN — At a campaign event here Monday night, Republican presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R–Texas) could hardly speak for more than a minute without being interrupted by raucous applause and deafening cheers from the crowd of about 1,200 people.
In his 45-minute speech preceding today’s Republican primary, Paul covered an array of topics showcasing his strengths as a viable candidate, while shying away from bashing his Republican adversaries. Instead, Paul spoke about bringing U.S. troops back home, protecting civil liberties, eliminating federal entitlements and reducing the military-industrial complex and the national debt — all while highlighting the failings of the current administration and invoking the founding fathers throughout his address.
Paul said he was frustrated by the current institution of politics in the nation, and lamented the current direction of governmental affairs.
“We’ve undermined the system, we’ve undermined the dollar, we’ve undermined the principles, we’re over extended just about everywhere,” he said. “That’s why this has to be addressed in a fundamental way.”
Though he didn’t explicitly outline everything he would cut if he were elected president, Paul said reducing federal debt is imperative and provided a brief overview of his plan.
“We are the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world … it’s a debt crisis,” he said. “This is the reason that I think in the very first year we should cut the budget by $1 trillion … and cut out about five departments and reverse spending levels about five years.”
Paul criticized President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, saying it “solves no problems” and calling the model “unsustainable.” In addition to criticizing Obama and his administration, he also lambasted the lack of political unity on major issues afflicting the nation.
“What we need to do is bring coalitions together from the people who are on the left (and) don’t like war and protect civil liberties” he said. “(We need to) bring the people together on the right and say ‘I like economic liberty and sound money.’”
Paul also attacked the inability of Congress to trim the federal budget, and said its effort thus far have been futile.
“Congress tries to do something and they flunk,” he said. “And they say ‘We’ll have a super committee — (we’ll) dump it on the lap of the super committee’ and they made a super-mess out of the whole thing.”
He added: “We need to bring people together and change this back to what we used to have and that was a true republic.”
Paul, who called the education system “deeply flawed,” also addressed his popularity at universities throughout the nation.
“I’m really excited by the number of young people,” he said. “The college campuses are alive and well.”
In a meeting with reporters following his speech, Paul once again addressed his popularity with youth in America, noting his emphasis on issues that impact the generation most, like educational debt and Internet accessibility.
“I think they understand that I recognize the burden of what we’ve been doing for the last 50 years following on the shoulders of the young people,” Paul said. “Whether it’s the endless wars, paying for the debt, the attack on privacy — young people don’t like an attack on the Internet, I talk a lot about that.”
Rashid Baydoun, a graduate student at the University’s Dearborn campus and adviser of the Arab Student Union that co-sponsored the speech, said Paul has many ideas that appeal to a generation that is just starting to formulate political ideologies.
“We believe it starts with the leadership,” Baydoun said. “First and foremost, Ron Paul really offers students a new fresh outlook on politics in general”
While Baydoun identifies as a Democrat, he said Paul’s message transcends party politics.
“As students, we believe that with the growing debt in our government and the growing concerns about us rebuilding other countries … (the government is) not focusing our domestic issues here at home,” he said.