IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Congressman Ron Paul was greeted with chants of "President Paul" from a crowd of more than 1,000 at the University of Iowa Friday night, where his campaign held a "Youth For Ron Paul" event on homecoming weekend.
"I was told this was a special weekend and not too many would show up," Paul said. "Thank you for coming!"
The 76-year-old congressman was enthusiastic and tailored his speech to the 20-something crowd, receiving multiple standing ovations, as he placed particular emphasis on personal liberty.
"I think of liberty as being self ownership. Who owns you; who owns your life; who has the responsibility for you. … Some of this comes from self ownership, of course it means that it’s your body and people shouldn’t tell you what to do with your body," said Paul, who is staunchly anti-abortion rights.
"You should use your liberty, from my viewpoint, and my advice is use it in a productive manner. I see liberty as the release of creative energy and the purpose is to work for excellence and virtue. … If your spiritual life, which is a serious responsibility, and your intellectual life is a serious responsibility, why is it that we assume you can have free decisions there,\; why shouldn’t you have free decisions on what you eat, drink, smoke and put into your own body!"
Paul continued to focus on the war on drugs, as he did on Wednesday at the UNLV "Youth For Ron Paul" event. To emphasize his position, Paul told the story of Jose Guerena, a former U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq and was killed May 5th by a Pima County SWAT team, which mistakenly raided his home on the assumption he was in possession of marijuana -- as Guerena's wife and 4-year-old child hid in a closet. Guerena was holding a rifle when he was shot, according to police. Police also said they found a large sum of money in his house.
"He had nothing in his house," Paul said. "What are we doing to ourselves? … Right now, I fear for the destruction of my liberty and your liberty from domestic threats."
Talking about the Republican presidential campaign, Paul contrasted his donors with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s by sharing his recent fundraising totals -- his top three individual donations come from members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy.
"There is another candidate, and I'll let you guess who it is, but he's top in the polls right now," Paul said. "And he's got top three donations, and they all came from three big banking institutions." That was greeted with boos.
"I wonder if they expect to get some special benefits from the Federal Reserve or just what -- another bailout."
Paul also went after President Obama and the U.S. role in Libya.
"Oh yeah, great victory yesterday," Paul said sarcastically of the death of Moammar Khaddafy. "And the President is bragging, 'Got another one.' How can we be proud of that? No matter how bad a guy he was, who’s responsibility? It’s the responsibility of the people of Libya to make their self determination and deal with that. But no, we ended up paying for this. It was our bombs and our weapons that do this and believe me, it will be our burden. It is not going to go away."
Reports indicate members of Libyan rebel forces are the ones who found and killed Khaddafy, not the United States. The United States played a support role in the overall mission in Libya.
Paul named a number of individuals that the U.S. government had previously supported, including Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Nicaragua's Manuel Noriega, Iran's Mohammad Mosaddegh, and even Osama bin Laden when he was a member of the Mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
"It makes no sense whatsoever," Paul said. "It’s a schizophrenic foreign policy. … They only have two options -- we tell a dictator what to do, and if he does it, we give him a lot of money. If he doesn’t do it, we kill him!" He added, "If you look at Pakistan, they actually came up with a third option. The third option is we’ll do both -- we’ll keep bombing you and undermining, killing people making them mad at their own government, because their government supports us, and we give the government money. And we wonder why there’s chaos in that country. But I tell you what, there’s another option … that is the one the founders advised … making friends with as many people who want to be friends and trade with as many people who want to trade. Not try to get involved in the internal affairs, not to get involved in entangling alliances."
Paul also said the reason he chose to go into medicine, a first on the campaign trail in Iowa, was because he didn't want to fight in war, carry a gun, or "shoot anybody."
"One of the reasons I went into medicine, because I do remember World War II and Korea," he said, "and I hadn’t decided what profession to get into. One of the things that motivated me to go into medicine is the fact that I never wanted to carry a gun. I never wanted to shoot anybody and I thought well, I’ll probably get drafted someday, and I certainly am not going to play that game in war. And lo and behold, I was drafted in 1962, ended up being in the service for five years."