By Molly K. Hooper
Retiring Rep. Ron Paul plans to deliver speeches on college campuses next year and beyond, continuing his message of liberty and reducing the size of the federal government.
In an interview with The Hill, the Texas Republican clearly indicated that he isn’t ready for the rocking chair.
The 77-year-old physician-politician said, “I’m excited about spending more time on college campuses, not less. College campuses will still be on my agenda. That’s where the action is.”
He added, “The young people don’t like the debt they are inheriting, the violation of their civil liberties. They don’t like the war and it’s a fertile field. The people up here sort of ignore them.”
During the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign, Paul said that he visited at least 36 college campuses. He was surprised that the best turnout occurred at the historically liberal bastion, U.C. Berkeley, where 8,500 students attended his event.
“The same week I went to Texas A&M, which is conservative, I got like 4000 [students]. They thought that was good, but we went out to Berkeley and they said that [crowd] wouldn’t have happened in the 60’s,” Paul said with a chuckle.
He started drumming up collegiate interest during his first presidential bid for the GOP nomination in 2008, and built on the excitement in the 2012 primary. (Paul ran as the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 1988.)
The GOP hasn’t been able to capitalize on the college vote but the libertarian Paul has connected with young voters.
Paul opted not to endorse GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was badly beaten by President Obama by college-aged voters.
The retired obstetrician attributed the youth support of Obama to the president’s tone on avoiding war, calling him “the peace candidate.”
“Even though both sides [were] equally aggressive, Obama had a different tone…The good progressive Democrat knows that Obama short-changed them [in his first term]. But his rhetoric was still more appealing that he would be less likely to go to war,” Paul said.
On Wednesday afternoon, while his fellow House Republicans were electing their leadership team, Paul gave an hour-long speech on the House floor to share the lessons he’s learned during his 23 years in elected office (over a 36-year period).
His son, the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul (R), sat on the floor watching his father speak in the chamber for “may be the last time” in the Texas lawmaker’s congressional career.
The elder Paul declared that his “goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.”