Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul rolled out some equal opportunity scorn late Thursday in Iowa, criticizing Democrats and Republicans while elevating the concerns of the tea party and Occupy Wall Street movements.
But before he zinged the two political parties, the Texas congressman began his speech in front of over 300 people in Cedar Rapids with a joke about a matter he takes very seriously.
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"I was told we were having a little trouble with our microphone," Paul said as the mic screeched with mild feedback. "First thing I thought was, 'Ben Bernanke got to us, you know. It was a sabotage. The Fed is after me.'"
"Thank you very much for coming," Paul continued. "We have been very busy these last couple of days. And we've been very encouraged. Has anybody noticed that the polls have changed significantly?"
Polls have recently showed Paul either leading in Iowa or near the top, presenting the prospect that the congressman could win the first in the nation caucuses on Jan. 3.
Part of Paul's appeal: a libertarian message that includes ending the Federal Reserve, keeping the U.S. out of war, dismantling the Department of Education and dramatically lowering spending. The candidate has suggested cutting $1 trillion in the first year of a Paul administration.
But Paul's supporters also applaud his speaking out against political opponents, outside and inside his own party.
The tactic was on display during the candidate's Cedar Rapids speech.
"You know, the other Republicans have been rather challenging," Paul said, not identifying whether he was talking generally about his GOP critics or his rivals in the presidential race.
"They'll say, 'It's impossible – he's out of step. He wants to balance the budget. That's being out of step.' Then they say, 'How in the world can he get crowds out and get support? He wants to end all the war and bring the troops home,'" Paul said, prompting loud applause.
The candidate also criticized a former U.S. leader, though again not by name, and seemed to criticize the motives of defense hawks within the GOP.
"We were advised, many years ago, by a Republican president who said, 'Watch out – there's an alliance between the military and the Congress. And they will beat the drumbeat of war. Scare the people, there's another Hitler coming. They're going to bomb us. And we have to attack another country,'" Paul said. "How many Hitlers have we had here in the last 30 years? They always have to have an enemy in order to have to spend the money and buy more and more weapons."
That kind of language, and Paul's positions on U.S. military defense policies, cause some conservatives to suggest that Paul has no chance of winning the Republican nomination. The congressman frequently beats back that notion.
And yet his criticizing both political parties – even elevating two controversial yet politically opposed movements - also raises some eyebrows.
At one point during his speech, Paul said: "The American people are waking up….They're tired of what they heard from the two parties and get promises."
"If the Democrats promise one thing, then they get in and act like Republicans. Republicans promise something, they get in and act like Democrats. But the people are upset. They are getting angry. They are speaking out and I think it's very healthy."
"We have a tea party movement, we have an Occupy movement and people are saying, 'We've had enough. We don't want to be ripped off anymore. We want to do away with this crony corporatism and we want to restore individual liberty for each and every American citizen,'" Paul added.
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Paul's foreign policy stance is great and his policy on some civil liberties issues is great as well, HOWEVER (and it's a big one), if you go beyond those couple things he is nothing but a Tea Partier. Paul does not believe that all Americans should have access to healthcare, he does not believe that all qualified Americans should have access to higher education, he does not believe that government is necessary because he believes that "the market" will take care of all sorts of things from polllution to discrimination which history has shown is simply not the case. There is no way that I would vote for Paul and those who support him should take a closer look. Most are taken in by his foreign policy and willingness to change drug policy. These people need to make sure they know what else he stands for because it is extreme tea party ugliness.
Ron Paul has some good ideas, but once he gets going, he starts sounding bat-crap crazy. I don't think I could vote for him if he gets the nomination. If he got the nomination I might have to vote for Obama, like the republicans made me vote for Clinton his second term.
Freedom scares the hell out of the elite masters who love to control your very thoughts. Go Ron Paul!!!
Spoken like a true statesman! You have my vote and My Parents Vote. They had to switch parties but they cant wait to vote for him.
Paul surprised every one with how well he has done. Only trouble is his policies don't hold water. Nutty old man.and lots of nutty people to vote for him.
I hope Paul supporters will enjoy the spotlight thrown on their candidate. They can choose to ignore *all* of his record, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are obligated to follow Paul off of the cliff. I hope Paul supporters will be good sportsmen when Paul's inevitable fall from grace commences. Paul's record on race is entirely inappropriate for someone who is supposed to represent *all* of the people. Paul's views are totally incompatible with Democracy.
Good call on giving equal airtime to Tea Party and to Occupy – they've both had their astroturf moments but are also both fundamentally just groups of people who are sick and tired of the political machinations and utter disfunctionality in DC.
If Ron Paul thinks he will win the republican nomination, he is delusional.
Whatever this guy says he will not get my vote. I do not care if his writings in his newspaper were 20 years ago, a tiger does not change his stripes and he is crazy to boot.
If only the economy weren't such a concern and he didn't oppose education I could get behind him for his other policies. We have no business policing the world and some of his economic ideas would only hurt the non-rich.
Sometimes, in my crazier moments, I wonder how much damage he could really do. A lot of what he says I agree with, like ending wars and cutting the control of Congress by corporations. Then on the other hand, Paul doesn't really see that governments have legitimate functions. They should promote the general welfare, and that means supporting science, building roads and other worthwhile projects, and ensuring that Americans have access to affordable health care. The "magic market" that he believes will fix everything is an exploded myth. That market and lack of regulation is what got us into our current economic mess, and it leads to monopoly and plutocracy. And then there's the whole glaring inconsistency of wanting government to tamper in people's lives down to the cellular level, while at the same time demanding that people have the right to own weapons of practically any kind.
I don't know. If we could just keep the good parts of Ron Paul. If we could just humanize him. Maybe he wouldn't be so bad.
MN Mom- You're using the term Tea Party as a pejorative, when not everyone sees it that way. I've never been a part of the movement, and I don't agree with many of the socially conservative stances many of the Tea Party candidates support, but they are no more radical than the expansionists. Paul is a Libertarian, which is what inspired the Tea Party. The notion that limited government actually provides more for it's citizens is not new, and not radical. The more we depend on government whether it is for health care or education, the less individual liberty we have. Nobody is saying we are opposed to health care or to education, we just want to be able to make those choices on our own. Cronyism and government dependence go hand in hand. Why do we NEED the government to provide those things? Free markets when they are unfettered by cronyism and regulation, DO provide lower cost and greater accessibility.
I've noticed that those who support Ron Paul do not live in fear. This is his greatest asset. Fearful people always want war and to spend problems away. Neither are productive to our fundamental values. The people who live in fear live a brainwashed life, and sadly, some are ok with that. The massive egos, false wealth, and ignorance that accompany this constant subconscious fear are truly massive in this country. This is not freedom. It’s self-isolation.
MN Mom – don't twist his positions. Ron Paul would love it if everyone had healthcare and higher education. He does not believe, however, that other people should have to pay for it. Big difference. Freedom to sink or swim on your own, instead of taxing others so that the government can give things to you.
Ron sounds like a cranky old guy who dosn't like prunes.
Only trouble is his policies don't hold water."""
Has opposed to the policies we have currently that everyone is pissed off at.
No more bailouts, no more political favors, no more BS!
He looks so much like Ross Perot, that I half expect him to say, "Hear that giant sucking sound?"
Ron Paul won as a 3rd party so you can win over the republican.
I don't think Paul is nutty at all. What is so nutty about fiscal responsibility, not bailing out big banks/corporations with our tax dollars, cronyism and not being the military police throughout the world. I think all the others are nutty.
There's nothing "nuttier" or "crazier" than someone who thinks we should stop spending trillions of dollars bombing countries on the other side of the world.
Ron Paul will save us from bankruptcy!
WIthout him you can kiss your social security and healthcare benefits goodbye because the money won't be worth the paper it's printed on.
Ron Paul! The president of the people! Not a party!
Rudy NYC- just what record on race are you addressing? The newsletter that had some racially insensitive jokes, that he has repeatedly disavowed? His position on the civil rights act of 1964, which is a principled stance on property rights not on race? I am completely familiar with his record, though I'm supporting a different candidate. Nothing I've seen or heard makes me think he's in any way a racist.
I would like the MSM, who so adores nutty old Paul, to ask him what would happen to the U.S. economy if he actually succeeded in cutting $1 trillion from the budget.
The tea party is destroying America with their hatred of every one who does not look or think like them. They intend to dismantle the American government and drive us off a cliff. Lucky for us that Ron Paul has no chance of beating Obama regardless of whether he wins Iowa or all the primaries.
@MN Mom – incorrect! Paul believe YOU should go out and get your education, not sit at home while the gov't offers you teh loan, then has you spending the next 20+ years paying it off. Paul believes YOU should go and talk to your doctor or insurance agent, and get the health care you need! his beliefs are all rooted in personal responsibility, something which has taken a backseat these past few (read: 20) years...