Ron Paul packs venues across NDThousands of people filled venues across the state Sunday and Monday to see what Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul had to say.
By: By April Baumgarten, Amy Dalrymple, Brian Willhide, all of Forum Communications Co., and The Associated Press, The Dickinson Press
Thousands of people filled venues across the state Sunday and Monday to see what Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul had to say.
About 800 people filled a school auditorium in Williston Sunday, hours after a crowd of more than about 550 people gathered in Dickinson to hear the candidate speak. Monday he visited Jamestown and Bismarck, drawing about 1,200 onlookers in the capital city, according to The Associated Press.
“We were assuming the other candidates might just ignore North Dakota,” Paul said during his stop in Dickinson. “We saw it as an opportunity, and we have had a lot of support come through here and we have a lot of friends here.”
Paul, a U.S. Congressman from Texas, drew loud cheers for his message that emphasizes personal freedom and limited government.
“If you let the people go to work, let the market work, let them produce something, the economy does better,” Paul said. “There’s no reason why you can’t look at what’s happened in this state and apply that to the rest of the country.”
While in Dickinson, Paul said North Dakota oil is an important part of the national economy. He said he supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would link Canada to Texas with a way to transport oil. President Barack Obama recently rejected the idea.
“What is disgusting to me about that is that one person in our country, even if he is the president, can make or break something that important,” Paul said. “If I’m president, I’m not going to act like a king and pretend I have that much power.”
During Paul’s stop in Williston, which was organized by the nonpartisan think tank the North Dakota Policy Council, Paul received loud applause when he talked about eliminating the federal reserve. He also said he would cut $1 trillion from the budget.
Several in the front row wore “Veterans for Ron Paul” shirts and applauded for Paul’s comments on foreign policy.
“It isn’t our business and it isn’t our right to go around the world telling other people how they have to live,” Paul said.
Duane Sattler, of Richardton, was one of the sign-carrying Paul supporters who attended his Bismarck speech. His son, 13-year-old Shawn Sattler, sat nearby, waving an American flag.
“He’s been standing alone a lot of times,” Sattler said of Paul. “He votes for our personal freedoms, for sound money, and for less government and less taxes.”
He became a Paul supporter during his presidential run in 2008, Sattler said. “I really went and did some research, and the deeper I dug, the more I liked the man,” he said. “With the other candidates, the deeper I dug, the less I liked them.”
In Jamestown, Paul told the audience he wants to reform fiscal policies domestically rather than working with foreign agencies such as the United Nations.
“The current financial system will not prevail and the internationalists know that,” he said. “We need monetary reform but it should be here under our national sovereignty.”
Paul also said there’s no reason for farmers in a free society to be told what goods they cannot raise nor sell.
“Farmers ought to be able to sell raw milk,” he said as an example.
Most who attended the Williston event appeared to be strong Paul supporters, while others were there to hear what he had to say.
“I wanted to be part of history,” Williston resident Steve Atwell said.
Scott Erlandsen, a lifelong Williston resident, said he first heard of Paul in 2008 and after researching him, he’s become a strong supporter. He likes that Paul follows through with his promises.
“He kind of restored my hope in politicians,” he said.
Leon Raad, a pastor from Tioga, said he likes that Paul wants to restrict the role of government.
“I feel like the government is becoming more and more oppressive on personal freedoms,” Raad said.
At the Dickinson event, Kayla Kessel of Belfield and Kyle Steffan of Dickinson showed their support by making signs that said “Rick Santorum hates puppies. Ron Paul loves puppies. Vote for puppies! Vote Ron Paul 2012.”
“It was more so of a character view, but now our analogy is puppies are the American people,” Kessel said. “He is for the American people.”
“I just think that Ron Paul has more character,” Steffan said.
In North Dakota’s Republican presidential caucuses in 2008, Paul finished third behind Mitt Romney and John McCain, getting 21 percent of the almost 9,800 votes case.
North Dakota Republicans will hold a statewide presidential caucus on March 6.
North Dakota will have 28 of the Republican National Convention’s almost 2,300 delegates, set for Aug. 27-30 in Tampa Bay, Fla.