Paul says foes like big government
College of Charleston students flock to see long-shot GOP candidate
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told students at the College of Charleston Tuesday that many see him as a radical candidate, but it's mainstream politics that's really on the fringe.
"It's an extreme idea to start wars," said Paul, a Texas congressman who has opposed U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Paul said central economic planning doesn't make much sense, either, adding that he supports smaller government, states' rights, and phasing out of the Federal Reserve and safety-net programs including Social Security.
Paul spoke at the college's Bully Pulpit series during his first campaign swing through the Lowcountry. He also dedicated a new campaign office here and was scheduled to speak to a rally in Mount Pleasant.
He proved popular with the college crowd. Communications Department chair Brian McGee said students snapped up the 400 free tickets in just a few hours.
Before that talk, Paul told reporters that his "intense dedication to following the Constitution" is what sets him apart from his Republican rivals. "They all represent big government," he said of the GOP pack. "They've all been taken over by the neoconservatives. ... They want to run an American empire."
Like Howard Dean's 2004 Democratic bid, Paul has used the Internet to link up with like-minded voters. "In many ways, our supporters heard of the message and they've organized and they've come to us, rather than us organizing the Internet," he said.
His Web presence also has been a perfect way to link with younger voters, such as John Wannamaker, 19, a sophomore. He called Paul "the only honest candidate."
Kyle Smith, 20, who's a junior, said he made sure to pick up a ticket because he wasn't able to get one for Paul's GOP rival, U.S. Sen. John McCain, who appeared at the college several weeks ago. Smith said he leans toward the Democrats but likes Paul's opposition to the U.S. involvement in Iraq. "I'm draft age, and we're getting low on troops," he said.
Bobby Johnston, who's 21 and a senior, said that he likes that Paul supports more civil liberties and fewer taxes. If people had to pay less in taxes, he said, "they'd have the liberty to fund issues like AIDS" if they chose to do so.
Andrew Mauldin, 22, is a senior, a Libertarian, and an intern for Paul's campaign. He said many students didn't know much about Paul, but he predicted that will change soon: "This presentation will set things in motion for Ron Paul."