Ron Paul divides crowd at 2011 Republican Leadership Conference



Ron Paul fans cheer their candidate.
  • Ron Paul fans cheer their candidate.
"END THE FED!" chanted the Ron Paul faithful as the Texas Representative took the stage at the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference. Paul, a divisive figure in the modern GOP — some nearly worship him, some loathe his isolationist policies — split the crowd at the RLC as well. Paul supporters, many of them young men, packed the edges of the Hilton ballroom, cheering lustily, while those in the roped-off VIP section in the middle of the room sat stone-faced, not rising to welcome Paul and not applauding, even after some Paul's biggest applause lines (ending the war, ending the Federal Reserve). When he mentioned getting the U.S. out of the United Nations, though, the crowd came together as one. (Suck it, United Nations.)

If elected president, Paul said, he "would repeal Roe v. Wade if at all possible" — a position that drew cheers, presumably for the spirit rather than the actual notion; hard to imagine an America where a president can "repeal" a U.S. Supreme Court decision. He also praised "a free society," which is "the most productive society," he said, saying "individuals are the ones who claim rights." (Nevertheless, the Ron Paul booth offers handouts stressing the candidate's backing of the Defense of Marriage Act.)

"All great nations have ended not because of military confrontation," Paul said. "It's time for us to give up that obligation of being bogged down in so many countries of the world." A mixed response.

People have the right to drink raw milk, he told the crowd, and we should be allowed to raise hemp in this country. "If you want to get high on hemp, you have to smoke a cigarette as big as a phone pole." He sang the praises of hemp (dude!), concluding with a lusty "Legalize hemp!".

Regardless of their individual opinions, the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the stage to the Beatles' "Revolution."

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