By Brian Messenger
Texas Republican and presidential hopeful Ron Paul wrapped a two-day swing through New Hampshire yesterday with stops in Derry, Windham and Salem, N.H.
At the Nesmith Library in Windham, the man dubbed the "godfather of the Tea Party" by Fox News delivered a speech to about 50 people eager to hear his libertarian message.
Paul trumpeted the need for smaller government and the restoration of personal freedoms provided under the U.S. Constitution. The veteran congressman also outlined his ideas for reforming the nation's monetary system and his desire to scale back American military involvement across the globe.
"We have lost confidence in what free society is all about," said Paul, 75. "The very good news is that a lot of people are waking up."
Paul was greeted with a round of applause yesterday when he told audience members he will vote against a Congressional plan to raise the national debt ceiling.
Paul likened government spending to a drug, one he said politicians are addicted to. Pointing to his arm, he compared raising the debt limit to an addict getting another fix. In the case of a higher debt ceiling, Paul said it will provide short term relief only by allowing spending to continue.
Paul spoke at length and in detail about America's economic policies, showing no hesitation as he delved deeply into topics including the debt, interest rates and the role of the Federal Reserve.
Another target was the military. Paul said U.S. armed forces have built a "fortress" of an embassy in Baghdad that's larger than the Vatican. "We don't need that," he said, adding that America must consider scaling back its military presence in countries like Germany, Japan and Korea.
"We've been in Korea since I was in high school," said Paul. "It's time to come home. The world would be better off for it, because we can't afford it."
An advocate of deep budget cuts, including for the military, Paul said it's time for America to realize it's living beyond its means and make tough decisions.
"This is a very important time in our history to decide which way we're going to go," said Paul. "There's going to be an opportunity. ... We can get out of this as long as we energize the people."
Paul was greeted by a receptive crowd. His down-to-earth persona nearly moved one man to tears during the question and answer session that followed his speech.
Brad and Roxanne Winslow of Salem, N.H., were surprised at the small size of the crowd yesterday. The couple said they were impressed with Paul's straight-forward approach to politics.
"He's one of the few people that tells the truth," Brad Winslow said. "He's been consistent for 30 years."
This is Paul's second consecutive run for president and the third attempt of his political career. He has served multiple stints as a U.S. representative in Texas, beginning in 1976.
Paul said yesterday that many other presidential candidates have good intentions.
"It's whether you have right ideas or wrong ideas," said Paul. "I believe we as a country have been following the wrong ideas for a long time."
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