AUSTIN (AP) – Ron Paul told thousands of supporters in his home state Sunday that they “have infiltrated the Republican Party” in the name of liberty.
The GOP presidential hopeful and congressman from Lake Jackson near Texas’ Gulf Coast appeared with his son Rand, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, outside the Texas Capitol. Members of the rally crowd screamed themselves hoarse while sweating under the unrelenting afternoon sun.
“The revolution is working,” the elder Paul said. “We have infiltrated the Republican Party and we will convert the Republican Party into defenders of Liberty.”
Texas holds its presidential, congressional and state legislative primaries May 29. Paul has attracted big crowds on college campuses in many states, but hasn’t won any presidential caucuses or primaries.
He has 93 delegates to the national Republican convention, according to an Associated Press count, compared to the 859 held by presumptive GOP nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Paul hit major Libertarian themes, talking of runaway government spending devaluing American currency and envisioning a world in which the U.S. Federal Reserve’s control of monetary policy is obsolete. He promised to send U.S. troops home from foreign conflicts and stamp out overregulation of everything from health care policy to milk production.
The crowd frequently interrupted him with cries of “President Paul.” And when they chanted “End the Fed,” Paul smiled and said, “That is a very good idea.”
He later added that, “We want to take care of our own business, and get the feds out of our lives.”
Both Paul and his son endorsed another speaker at the rally, former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite who is one of four major senatorial candidates vying for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
“The establishment is on the run. They are scared,” Cruz said. “Career politicians in both parties just want to hold on to power.”
Cruz said the tea party “tidal wave” that began in 2010 is still going strong. He said he wants to get rid of the U.S. Departments of Education, Commerce and Energy, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and that he’d “most like to eliminate the IRS,” doing away with federal income taxes levied by the agency.
Ron Paul implored the crowd to “send Ted to the Senate because Rand needs help.” Rand Paul said Cruz could beat back a federal “nanny state” where “38 federal agencies are armed,” including SWAT teams controlled by the Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve let our government get away from us,” the younger Paul said.
Cruz chided his chief rival in Texas’ Senate primary, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, for killing a bill in the state Senate last session that would have criminalized excessive pat-downs at airport security after the federal government threatened to ground all flights into and out of Texas if the law became a reality.
Cruz said “the lieutenant governor didn’t want to stand and fight.”
The elder Paul noted that he voted against the creation of the agency responsible for airport security, the Transportation Security Administration, and that he had subsequently introduced unsuccessful legislation that would have meant “a TSA agent can do nothing that you can’t do.”
“So, if you can’t grope a stranger, and you go to prison,” he said, “if anybody at the airport gropes a stranger, and he pretends he’s allowed to because he belongs to the government, he should be personally liable.”
The national Tea Party Express sponsored Sunday’s rally, but the crowd wasn’t always ready to embrace the group’s message.
When Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer tried to sing the praises of Cruz to start the rally, she was met with shrieks of “Ron Paul! Ron Paul!” She finally responded, “You’re going to hear from Congressman Paul, I promise.”
That appeased the crowd for a bit, but when she continued to talk about the Senate race in Texas, her words were drowned out again by chants of “We want Ron Paul!”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)