Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"A vote for (Ron Paul) is a vote for my liberties and principles," Breece said. "To vote for someone who is 'electable' but is the lesser of two evils is against everything I believe."

Ron Paul speaks to packed auditorium in Dearborn

By Frank Donnelly, Kim Kozlowski and Chad Livengood

Ron Paul's strident opposition to war and the Patriot Act found a receptive audience Monday night in this community with a large Arab and Muslim population.

A rambunctious crowd of 1,500 chanted and held signs during the Republican presidential candidate's appearance at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Several hundred others couldn't get into the auditorium.

As he did during other Michigan appearances earlier in the day, the folksy grandfather also railed against the Federal Reserve, government entitlements and the government's growing role in the lives of citizens.

"Our freedom has steadily eroded," he said to loud cheers. "Our liberties weren't washed away overnight."

While volunteers at the event were uniformly young, mostly college age, the overflowing crowd ranged from young to old. Among them was Bob Stark, 34, a medical supply salesman from Dearborn who said Paul was the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, talking about making real changes to society.

"The two parties are the same," he said. "Nothing is going to get better unless we're serious about it."

The crowd frequently cheered Paul's positions on issues and booed mention of his rivals.

"Murderer," one cried when Paul mentioned President Obama approving the assassination of a terrorist. "Impeach him," cried another.

Paul said America would never have true liberty until it got government out of the lives of residents, whether it was their medical care, monetary policy or sending them to war.

While he hasn't received as much support as other Republican candidates, he said a large group wasn't necessary to effect real change in America.

The American Revolution was orchestrated by a small group, he said. So was communism, he said.

"The right ideas will prevail and they (opponents) will not silence us," he said.

Earlier in the day, Paul was greeted in almost rock-star fashion by a cheering crowd of more than 3,400 at Michigan State University.

"It sounds like the revolution has arrived in Michigan," the Texas congressman told the crowd of mostly college students packed into the school's Concert Auditorium on Monday afternoon.

Paul's vows to get rid of the Federal Reserve, the Transportation Security Agency, Patriot Act, the federal income tax and only declare war with the consent of Congress got standing ovations from the crowd, which interrupted with cheers of "President Paul" and "end the Fed."

Since his last run for president in 2008, Paul's "revolution" has relied upon the enthusiasm and generally untapped voting power of young people to propel his continued quest for the White House.

Charles Breece, 23, of Saginaw, acknowledges Paul's chances of victory in Michigan's primary Tuesday are slim against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

"A vote for (Ron Paul) is a vote for my liberties and principles," Breece said. "To vote for someone who is 'electable' but is the lesser of two evils is against everything I believe."

Paul's rally at MSU was his fourth stop in Michigan since he began campaigning here Saturday. Paul did not directly mention Romney or Santorum in his nearly hour-long MSU speech, sticking to his stump speech about out-of-control entitlement and military spending.

Paul also had a prepared answer for his critics who say his ideas about the role of the U.S. government in world affairs, the economy and people's lives are something out of the 19th century.

"I'll tell you what's Dark Ages — that's tyranny," Paul said, gathering cheers. "We don't want to go back to tyranny."

Earlier, Paul held a town hall meeting in Detroit, where residents in one of the poorest ZIP codes in Michigan showed up searching for someone to lead the city and the rest of the nation out of the economic doldrums.

Jackie Hemphill wasn't sure if it could be Paul, but she went to Little Rock Baptist Church Education and Performing Arts Center to hear what he had to say.

"We need someone stronger than (President Barack) Obama," said Hemphill, 56, of Detroit. "We've been in the storm too long."

Asked by Riverside Preparatory Academy student Jazarae Abram how she might be able to find employment in the inner city where jobs are limited, Paul pointed to personal responsibility but also said changing many issues he's lobbying for would help.

"People who want to assume responsibility for themselves could do it a lot better if they had a job," Paul said. "You have to have a prosperous economy. You have to reward people for working and being frugal."

But if people save money, they get taxed on the interest earned and the government destroys money, Paul argued, so that's why there's no incentive to save and that's why there is no economic growth.

"Unless you look at the business cycle and deal with the Federal Reserve, deregulate and change the tax code and get people to bring their money back home because they can make more money overseas and deal with some of the problems of labor costs, if you don't do that, you can't have jobs," he said.

Paul went to Detroit to speak about how his platform could lift up Detroit, but the event was also organized, those who attended said, partly to divert votes away from the other Republican candidates and get Obama re-elected in November.

Detroiters and others are being encouraged to vote for Paul because they want him to win the delegates in Michigan's 13th and 14th districts, which are mostly in Detroit and the surrounding area, community organizer Ernest Johnson said.

"We want to give six delegates to Ron Paul," Johnson said, so that GOP candidate and Michigan native Mitt Romney loses Michigan.

"The ultimate goal is to defeat Romney," Johnson said. "He told Detroit to go bankrupt. We know Romney is going to be the (Republican) nominee. We want him wounded, we want him to lose his native town so people can say, 'He can't even win his home state.' That will go a long way (in getting Obama re-elected).

"We are looking way further than tomorrow."

Johnson was referring to Romney's opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

About 300 people showed up to hear Paul speak, but it wasn't a diverse crowd despite its location.

But that was OK with Wayne Bradley, a conservative online radio host.

"I give him credit for showing up in the inner city, not at the Detroit Economic Club or at Ford Field," Bradley said, referencing appearances made by other candidates. "He's bringing his message to the heart of the city. He gets kudos for that."

Paul took the stage and briefly addressed the issue of getting people out of poverty.

"It is not easy," he said. "I wish I could come in and wave a magic wand and correct all the problems whether they are local or national."

He then talked of doing his training nearby at Henry Ford Hospital, and spoke for 30 minutes about limited government, ending wars overseas, cutting government spending, eliminating deficits and restoring freedom and liberty.

He said the federal government is too involved in people's lives and thinks responsibilities first start with individuals, then extend to families, then to communities, then churches, then states.

"Things should be done at the local level," Paul said.

At the end of his speech, he took questions by students, including two who asked how he would address urban schools, especially Detroit Public Schools, and urban America in general.

Paul responded by saying the federal government has not helped by consuming wealth, putting on regulations and requirements and not allowing local officials to vary their education according to local needs.

"The government, federal and state governments, have caused most of these problems, but there's some people who do get around it," Paul said. "So there is a burden also placed on we as individuals to escape it by working harder and studying harder. So often children go home and don't get much encouragement at home, and that's difficult."

He continued: "As soon as you are adult enough to realize what's going on in the world, there's an individual responsibility, there's a family responsibility, there's a local responsibility, there's a church responsibility. For the most part, I want to get the government out of the way and get the economy can get healthy and you can get a job."


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