Minnesota's pre-caucus parade of presidential candidates ended Monday with a visit from Republican Ron Paul to the University of Minnesota.
Those politicians who beat him to the Twin Cities in the past week -- John Edwards, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton -- all spoke of the need for change in Washington. But Paul, a Texas Congressman and obstetrician, would shake things up the most by essentially doing away with government as we know it.
"We're taking on everybody," Rep Paul laughed when asked why he connects with college students, "We're taking on the banking system, the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex."
Paul is a Republican who often sounds more like a Libertarian because he wants to do away with federal taxes and American intervention overseas, particularly foreign wars.
"If we just changed our attitude about the Middle East, if we just said we're not going to have an empire anymore, and we're going to bring our troops home and save $500 billion, which we could, that would restore confidence to the dollar and our budget would come back in order," Paul told reporters at a news conference at Coffman Memorial Union.
"The only perception is excessive spending here, excessive spending abroad. Nobody's really talking about coming home. They tinker around with moving the troops in the Middle East. But I want to bring troops home from Korea, Japan and Europe, because we're broke, the empire's coming unglued, the dollar is going down."
Paul was in town to headline a rally at Northrop Auditorium Monday night. He's generated a sizable following on college campuses because of a concerted effort by students to create a buzz for him on the Internet.
His hands-off-your-wallet and hands-off-the-world rhetoric has struck a chord with younger people on both ends of the political spectrum including the two granddaughters who traveled with him to Minnesota, Laura and Valerie.
"They have a lot at stake," Paul explained, "Because they're the ones who will have to pay for all of this. They're the ones who have to fight these wars."
He conceded that youthful enthusiasm doesn't always translate to votes. He's claimed second place in Nevada and Louisiana, plus a third place showing in Maine. And yet it hasn't won him any committed delegates.
"Tomorrow is a very important day for us and we hope to do well in many of the states, especially here in Minnesota."
But he's hoping for a surprise strong showing in Minnesota's Republican caucuses. Even if no actual delegates are on the line, he believes he'd be harder to ignore.
"Maybe the mainstream media will have to report what we do!"
Paul's proven himself to be a capable fundraiser on-line, and is buying TV and radio ads in the Twin Cities in addition to billboard space. But he asserts his unconventional ideas have made some in the media not to take him seriously.
And he seems to do the opposite of pandering, for example opposing the economic stimulus package Congress passed last week.
"The House passed a $150 billion package last week. They don't have any money! But they're going to borrow the money or put pressure on the Fed to print the money. Then the Fed said we're going to solve this disaster, that they created by printing too much money!"
Likewise Minnesota corn growers won't likely warm to his views on subsidies for corn-based ethanol.
"I don't believe in any subsidies. If they're tax credits for corn I support that, but if it's just a subsidy I don't."
And Paul argues no one agricultural product should be treated differently when it comes to tax credits designed to spur development and production of alternative fuels.
"If you subsidize one substance over another you get a market distortion. If it turns out to be wrong you've wasted a lot of resources."
"I would give equal supports to sugar cane, which might help somebody in the South. But I also would legalize the growing of hemp," he remarked, "Who knows you might be able to raise hemp in this state."
(Copyright 2008 by KARE11. All Rights Reserved.)