HAMMOND, La. – On the eve of the state’s primary, Texas Rep. Ron Paul drew an enthusiastic crowd of 1500 people to a rural Louisiana college town on Friday evening for a speech that harshly attacked the federal government.
At University Hall, the basketball stadium for Southeastern Louisiana University, supporters wore name tags to facilitate networking in advance of the state’s Republican caucuses beginning next month.
Although the state’s Republican presidential primary is Saturday, most of the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa will be decided at caucuses April 28 and the state party convention on June 2.
Looking relaxed and fit in a button-down shirt and a pair of blue jeans, Paul received numerous rounds of cheers during his 40-minute address.
“The revolution is alive and well,” he said before beginning his standard stump speech, which hit on his favorite themes.
Paul called the federal budget “ridiculous” and said the present entitlement system “doesn’t work.” The Federal Reserve? “A failure.”
Seeking to separate himself from other Republican candidates, Paul also railed against the several undeclared wars fought by the United States in the past decade. “Uncontrolled spending” on wars and military contracts pose as big a danger as entitlement spending, Paul said.
He concluded by calling for a restoration of personal liberties and constitutional rights, a theme which Paul later told the media particularly resonates with young people.
Ian Stahl, an older supporter who drove up from New Orleans, said personal liberties are “near and dear to my heart,” as well.
Eighteen-year-old high-school student Hunter Shutze, who traveled from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to hear the speech, was one of the youngest people in attendance on Friday. Wearing a shirt that said, “Nobama: Keep the change,” Shutze told The Daily Caller he had learned something new at the event.
“I liked the part where he told us the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and since then the value of the dollar has gone 97 percent. That was shocking,” Shutze said. “I also liked when he said there is still hope in this nation and our generation can turn things around.”
Heath Schuller, an undergraduate at Southeastern University whose education was delayed by two tours of duty in Iraq, was equally enthusiastic about the speech.
“It was awesome. … He’s spot on about everything,” Schuller said. “The government is getting us involved in these wars for no reason and getting us killed. It’s like Vietnam.”
This fervent support is what Paul hopes will pay off in Louisiana. While Paul is polling poorly in advance of Saturday’s primary, his campaign has its sights set on the upcoming caucuses.
“I don’t know the details, but I had seen talk today that it was very likely that we will do quite well when the state convention comes about,” Paul told TheDC.