Ron Paul in Iowa City
Most of Iowa's action is elsewhere this afternoon - the labor rally and testimony in Des Moines, the five-candidate Republican forum in Waukee - but the third ring of the circus was Bob Vander Plaats and the Family Leader Presidential Lecture series, which brought Ron Paul to the state for the day.
The first Paul stop, in Sioux Center, was scrubbed due to weather, but he made it to Pella and Iowa City.
Time and tech constraints have me going with the modified liveblog format:
Press availibility is on time at 3:05. Paul the elder (we need to specify now with Rand - now that's a libertarian, you name your kid "Rand"?!? - Rand in the Senate) takes a couple education questions: “The higher cost of education is a consequence of government policy. When I went to college (early-mid 1950s) government wasn't as involved and the cost was very low. In a free market students can afford it.”
With Bob Vander Plaats looking over his shoulder, Ron Paul talks to press
Next is the million dollar question when Bob Vander Plaats and Ron Paul are standing together: how to reconcile a libertarian outlook with social conservatism. “It depends on the issue,” says Paul. On marriage and abortion “I defer to the states and I want the states to deal with that. I'm strongly right to life, but the states should take care of that. It'll be imperfect because laws will be different, but what is bad is when you allow the federal government to decide.”
That was my question, so instead I asked about the Middle East. “It's their revolution and they ought to have it. Our involvement is part of the problem. We propped up the government of Egypt for 30 years. We're propping up Saudi Arabia. We need to to a lot less a lot sooner,” he said, which pretty much sums up Paul's entire approach to, well, everything.
Such as our current wars: “The country is flat out broke.” When informed that a no fly zone had been established over Libya, he said “a no fly zone is an act of war.”
Paul said he doesn't set out to appeal to young voters, “but to them the message is appealing. I've been talking about the same things for many years, but it's gotten more attention in the last couple years.”
Paul said “printing press money” (his term) needs to stop and government should “serve the interest of liberty, not special interests. If you want prosperity you have to have freedom. If you seek security you lose your liberty.”
Bob Vander Plaats was silent during press time this time, but as of 4 (after a break for a closed door event with GOP activists) took over as MC again. Calls Paul “one of the true committed individuals in Congress committed to our liberty and the constitution,” adapting to PAUL'S RHETORICAL style. (damn capslock)
Paul: “You not only have the right to take care of yourself, you have the OBLIGATION. We don't need the government telling us what to do."
“Families are the most important units in a free society,” he said, adapting to BVPs style. “Your rights and responsibilities come from your creator.”
“Salvation doesn't come collectively. I object to hyphenated rights, minority rights There's only one kind of rights, individual rights.”
Now, the million dollar contradiction for libertarians: “Based on my medical training, life begins as concettion. As an MD I had a responsibility to care for the mother and the fetus, the baby, she's carrying.”
“When I went to medical school the issue of abortion didn't come up.” That's 1957-61; Paul's an OB-GYN by trade.
“The morality of people changes the law.“ Paul says there's never going to be 'magic laws' to make everyone be moral, but “Freedom works best when the society itself is moral.”
Paul moves to his favorite turf, money policy, and refers to IRS agents, by implication, as thieves. “The Founders wrote in the constitution that only gold and silver could be money.” If you allow the federal reserve to print and spend money at will, that's counterfeiting,” he says, and notes that the first penalty for counterfeiting was death. (He also mentions his Audit The Fed bill at this point.)
About 200 bodies were on hand, much bigger than last month's Tim Pawlenty event.
Paul says students “realize what's falling on your shoulders” with the debt. “Things like endless oversea commitments, printing $ at will, no jobs available... somebody's messed up.”
“It's a major problem but it's not complicated. We sent too many people to Washiongton who did not take seriously their oath to obey the constitution.” Will be hard to fix in short run but “our answers can be found in our traditions. There was a time when we had honest money and low taxes.”
“When they talk about sacrifice, what if you've never created the problem? What if we gave you your freedom back? I wouldn't consider that a sacrifice, I'd consider it a gift.” (applause)
Without the bailout “there would have been a depression on Wall St. They DESERVE to have a depression, not the peoplel” (applause)
The Soviet system failed morally and ecomically. “And one of the final blows was they thought they could conquer Afghanistan.” (laughter and applause)
“The free society based on moral principles is the only humanitarian system that can take care of the mass of the people. It's a moral issue and a religious principle, and freedom is something we can salvage.”
20 minutes in now. “The role of government is to preserve liberty. I don't believe you have to give up any liberty to be safe (alluding to his votes against Patriot Act without a direct reference). Your ultimate liberty, other than invasion, comes from the 2nd Amendment” (big applause)
“The people who are for minimum wage law are creating unemployment,” he says, referencing “Austrian free market economics” which apparantly is a buzzword on the right.
At the beginning of his career “I was convinced I could not be elected because I had these 'strange views',” but said he first ran to be educated. Wife said “That could be dangerousyou could be elected”
Speech done 4:26. BVP and Chuck Hurley step up with prescreened Q and A.
Hurley goes first: should govt or parents have primary responsibility for education? (coughhomeschoolcough)
“I don't believe the fed govt should be involved in education at all (appl) That means I don't believe in the Department of Education (more appl). ”
“I want to make sure you can opt out of the state institution and have private or home schooling.”
BVP: most important legacy for next generation (with reference to 'your children')
“My wife and I didn't lecture our children, but there was examples set.” (there's no specific reference to Rand, who's also making an Iowa trip. Missed my chance at press time to ask if he and Rand are going to run against each other.)
Hurley: Why have most Christian groups not embraced your message?
“That's a deep question and I don't know the answer.” (some chuckles.) “There's disagreements on foreign policy, I think that's where the biggest difference is. I am strongly against the wars that are going on, I want wars to be declared and fought to win. I believe in the just war theory. You're supposed to work very hard to prevent war.” (even I have to applaud that.) BVP says “as a leader of THIS Christian group we respect you.”
After the fact aside: My guess is that to a lot of the Christian right proper, and Paul is a VERY different breed of cat, "libertarian" means "pro-abortion" (sic, and Paul is explicity anti-choice) and "pro-drug."
National debt: “The best way would be to pay it off.” (applause)
“Fiscal policy is a moral issue” and what we have done is immoral. "Don't blame me if I want to clean up the mess and return to sound money.”
To a question about the “broken progressive income tax system” (as if we still HAVE a progressive income tax?) Paul says “I don't want to fix it. I want to get rid of it” (to much applause) “The best tax is the least tax. The tax is the symptom of the problem: people want too much stuff and the politicians respond. We really enjoyed it before 1913 when we didn't have an income tax.” No word on whether we're going back to the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 or to a whiskey tax.
Asked about “Activist judges” by BVP, Paul says “At the federal level we ought to have the same right as you have in Iowa" to vote them out, "but that's not how it was written” in the constitution. Says nullification is “very very healthy.” “The Supreme Court has improved, there is some more interest in private property, because there has been some education of the public.”
Hurley: DOMA and Obama's refusal to defend. “The presidents goal is to undermine state's right to define marriage" says Paul. "DOMA was protecting the states. Marriage is a very personal religious matter and it shouldn't be the legal matter it is today. You're not going to satisfy 50 states.”
Paul closes at 4:43: “Young people are the ones who will need to bring about the change in the next decade or so.” Gives me optimism. Likens gov't to addiction: “you cant start a recovery till you admit the problem.”
And he's whisked to airport with no time for post-speech meet and greet. (Last time I sawy him, at the last-ever Olive Court tailgater, he shook every hand in the place.)
My bet: He runs again, gets the same 10 or so indigestible percent again. As for when he passes the torch to Rand, there's the complication of the KY senator coming up for re-election in 2016.