Ron Paul, making a return visit to Spokane in advance of today’s Republican precinct caucuses, showed again Friday that he continues to enjoy strong support across the Inland Northwest.
Paul drew about 1,000 people to a rally at the Spokane Convention Center. Two weeks ago at the same place, about 2,300 came to hear him speak.
“The immediate job we have right now is to show this country that the state of Washington is behind the cause of liberty,” Paul said.
The Washington Republican caucuses start at 10 a.m. today. In 2008, Paul was the top finisher in caucuses in Spokane County.
“We came because our strength is here, and we want to encourage them to get out and participate and become a delegate,” Paul said in a press briefing after his speech.
Paul, a one-time Libertarian Party presidential candidate, repeated his distinctly libertarian call for less government involvement in people’s lives.
“When it comes to personal liberties, lifestyles and what we put into our bodies, all of a sudden we have a bunch of busybodies telling us exactly what we’re supposed to do with our lives,” Paul said. “We should never accept the idea that the government can protect us against ourselves.”
Paul, as he did two weeks ago, blasted the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax, the Iraq War, the Transportation Security Administration and the Patriot Act.
“We do not have the right to attack another government that has not attacked us, no matter what kind of government they have,” Paul said.
He highlighted reports this week that two former U.S. senators have said they believe the Saudi Arabian government may have had a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Why didn’t they say it when they were on the 9/11 Commission and tell the American people the truth?” Paul said. “The truth is we don’t know the truth about exactly what happened, and I’ve never felt confident government commissions and investigations do all that much other than cover up for the people who made the mistakes.”
Paul spoke for about 30 minutes and took questions for another 10. He got a standing ovation to his answer to this audience question: “I was just wondering if you ever think that there is a time when it’s appropriate to put your party above your principles?”
“Never,” he said.
Paul attracts a diverse crowd, at least politically. Some supporters list former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum as their next choice, some list Democratic President Barack Obama, and some say they may not vote at all if Paul isn’t on the November ballot.
Troy Brower, who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Spokane until the U.S. attorney’s office ordered them all closed, said he usually leans toward liberal Democrats. This year, he’s leaning toward Ron Paul.
“I don’t really think Obama has represented my interests very well,” he said. “I’m looking for something really radical.”
Jen Mac, a Spokane Valley resident who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee four years ago, said the other candidates seem like “they’re more of the same.”
“I want somebody who will defend the Constitution to get us back to our roots,” she said.