More than 1,000 people gathered on Memorial Glade Thursday to see Republican presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul speak and outline his plan to “restore America.”
Paul spoke on an array of issues, including the war on drugs, foreign policy, auditing the Federal Reserve and the importance of the Constitution to supportive reactions from the crowd. Paul tailored his talk to UC Berkeley’s history of free speech and spoke about reconciling supporters of personal freedom with those who support economic freedom.
The event — which was organized by Students for Liberty and Youth for Ron Paul — was originally supposed to be held in Zellerbach Hall but was moved due to an unexpectedly high turnout.
“I’m glad to be here in the home of free speech,” Paul said. “I can say anything I want tonight, right? As long as it’s true and good news.”
Paul spoke at length on issues of personal liberty, including California’s struggle with the federal government over medical marijuana dispensaries.
“I’d like to see the day when you actually have the freedom to drink raw milk,” he said in his speech. “In fact, I’d just a soon see the day when you can put anything you want in your body.”
Economic issues were also at the forefront of Paul’s speech. He discussed the failure of socialism and that being fiscally conservative does not mean you cannot be compassionate.
Following the event, Paul told The Daily Californian that it is self-defeating to use federal funds to alleviate the financial problems faced by students seeking higher education.
“When the federal government pumps money into the schools, you don’t get better quality education,” he said. “What you really do is you push up the price of education.”
Paul said that when he went to school, it “wasn’t very expensive” and that he was able to pay for his college education by working during the summers.
After hearing Paul’s speech, Marin resident Ryan Rodriguez explained his support for Paul’s views on foreign policy. He said he supports “(Paul’s) awesome message of ending unjust fraudulent wars all over the world.”
Moreover, UC Berkeley junior Will Skinner, co-president of Students for Liberty on campus, said he felt the event displayed the strength of libertarian ideas, even on a liberal campus.
“Ron Paul is probably one of the most eloquent and definitely the most well-known advocates of freedom,” Skinner said. “Ron Paul said in his speech ‘It’s a message whose time has come,’ and I think that’s certainly true. Our club has grown every year since we’ve been here.”