On a wet Sunday afternoon, presidential hopeful Ron Paul addressed a large crowd of supporters in Independence Mall in Philadelphia.
“You have to be a true believer to come out today,” the Texas Rep. said amidst cheers. Paul, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, delivered his address two days before Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary election.
Paul’s talk focused on the key components of his platform and referenced the country’s history.
“We ought to look more carefully at what the Founding Fathers told us and taught us,” he said as he warned against nation building and “entangling alliances.” Paul advocated for bringing home American troops and against constructing more military bases in other countries.
“Our foreign policy is a schizophrenic foreign policy,” Paul said, citing the United States’ shifting alliances in the Middle East.
The crowd, clad in raincoats and ponchos, punctuated his speech with chants of “President Paul” and “End the Fed.” Some brought homemade signs and others held ones from the official campaign.
Economic policy was also a key component of Paul’s talk. He proposed cutting $1 trillion the first year of his potential administration.
“A welfare state doesn’t work,” he said, referencing the Affordable Care Act passed by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Paul advocated for personal liberty and freedom from large government.
“Get rid of the people who believe it is their responsibility to run our lives and police the world,” he said. He critiqued policies like the War on Drugs as not only ineffective but invasive. If someone wishes to do drugs, he said, then that decision should not be regulated by the government.
Paul’s message of personal liberty and his strict reading of the Constitution resonates with his supporters.
“For me, it’s Ron Paul or nobody,” said David Adams, a junior from Haddonfield High School in Haddonfield, N.J., who attended the rally. “Ron Paul is the only candidate who supports things being voluntary, not by force.”
Jane Toal of Conshohocken, Pa. recently became a Paul supporter because of his “consistency” in “upholding the Constitution.”
Despite Paul’s continued campaigning, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has essentially secured the Republican nomination. Paul currently trails in the delegate count, holding only 63 to Newt Gingrich’s 136 and Romney’s 685, according to The New York Times.
Paul acknowledged his standing at his rally and said his campaign so far has “far exceeded all [his] expectations.”
“When you run, you run to win,” he said.
Throughout his campaign, the candidate has succeeded in attracting young people. Through the Super Tuesday primary elections, Paul and Romney were virtually tied in youth votes, acccording to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Toal said she would support Romney if Paul does not receive the nomination or run as a third party for his promise to repeal Obamacare.
Adams, along with several other Paul supporters, disagreed. “I think that Romney and Obama are so similar that whatever differences you find are splitting hairs,” he said.
Paul ended his rally to ongoing cheers and chants of “President Paul.”
“If you believe in liberty,” Paul said, “you both have a heart and a brain.”