Did Ron Paul just launch his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012?
To anyone who watched any of the other Republican stars give their speeches at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, the difference between Paul and the rest was clearly one of enthusiasm and volume. Indeed, it seems objective to report that the libertarian-leaning doctor from Texas was greeted more like a rock star than a politician.
And, Politico notes, he was the only speaker at CPAC to completely fill the convention hall.
"Sounds to me like the revolution is alive and well!" he said, eliciting another volley of cheers. "Quite a few here! Ten thousand people, all interested in promoting good government, limited government and personal liberty!"
Paul's Campaign for Liberty could be better described as one of the founding organizations of what's been more broadly termed the tea parties. While not yet a cohesive force in U.S. politics, many of those associated tend to be conservative leaning and much has been made among mainline Republicans to try and attract greater support therein. Paul even warned recently that "neocon influence" has begun to infiltrate the glut of tea parties. Paul, however, wants to engage liberals and progressives as well, who he's cited as having similar qualms with the government.
Plus, his core issues, such as creating transparency at the Federal Reserve, recalling overseas soldiers and ending the drug war, are "not what is generally heard from the Republican party," he's said.
At CPAC, his unusually rowdy band of supporters even flexed a bit of political moxie as Paul elicited jeers by mentioning President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat who left office in 1921.
"I believe we are on the verge of something very significant," Paul told the crowd.
He even took a jab at mainstream media, asking supporters if they remembered the presidential campaigns, when he was the guy "off in the corner" predicting economic doom.
"All the sudden, the crash that I had predicting all along: it came," he said. "And now, Fox News TV has had me on about 60 times since the campaign was over."
His message, he said, would continue to be attractive because its core is simply advocating greater freedom. "Freedom doesn't challenge a person's personal values," Paul said. "It doesn't challenge a person's religious values. They only say, come together on your terms, as long as you don't mess with me. ... I preach change, I want a lot of change. But I want non-violent change, and resistance to the current system."
His full speech in three parts is below, culled from C-Span by MoxNews.com.