Paul Making Final Push in S.C. Before the Vote
Texas Rep. Ron Paul is making a flurry of stops across the Palmetto state today ahead of Saturday's GOP primary
NORTH CHARLESTON — Speaking to more than 100 people gathered in a hanger at Atlantic Airlines at the Charleston International Airport, Rep. Ron Paul sought to drive home the main theme of his campaign, respecting the U.S. Constitution.
One of about a half-dozen whistle-stop-esque events planned for Friday across South Carolina, Paul took to the stage to again decry what he says are the ways the U.S. federal government has strayed from a strict reading of the country's founding document.
Striking out at a kind of relativism regarding the interpretation of the Constitution, Paul laid most of the blame on the country's education system.
"A lot of it is the consequence of the educational system over many, many decades," he said. "Because, too often, our young people have been taught that the Constitution is something that should not be overly rigid. Well why shouldn't it be overly rigid? What good is a law if it's not rigid?"
He also went after Congress' abdication of its Constitutional role of being the branch of government that holds the sole power to declare war, and he decried the trillions of dollars spent in the past decade on undeclared wars.
"In the last 10 years we have furthered our debt increase by $4 trillion on the wars that we're fighting overseas," Paul said. "The tragedy there is they weren't declared, we didn't go into them properly, we don't know exactly who the enemy is, we don't know exactly why we're there, and low and behold we don't know when the war is over."
Paul also went on the offensive against government overreach, embodied by the USA Patriot Act.
"Too often people, when they're frightened and there is chaos, they claim we need more government," Paul said. "Like after 9/11, the solution wasn't to have more government intrusion into your lives, and that is what really happened. They thought that the answer to the threat of Al Qaeda was to take away your Fourth Amendment, which the Patriot Act does."
"We don't need to undermine our liberty, we need to understand how liberty protects us and doesn't undermine our security if we protect liberty."
Paul's campaign has resonated with a dedicated core of supporters, many of whom see no credible alternative to Paul in the Republican field.
Jonathan and Brookes McClellan brought their 5-month-old son Jackson to see Paul's speech, and he's the only major party candidate that the McClellans will support.
"We do it for Jackson," Jonathan McClellan said. "We need someone to turn the country around and (Paul is) the only consistent conservative."
"I want the government out of my life and I want Jackson to grow up without an oppressive tax system."
The McClellans hope that Paul finishes in a strong third place at least on Saturday, though a second or first place finish would be even better.
"As long as he beats stupid Santorum," McClellan joked. "South Carolina has a bad history of sticking with the establishment, and (Paul) is definitely not establishment."
The McClellans said if Paul does not emerge as the Republican nominee no one else in the GOP field is likely to get their vote in November. Jonathan McClellan voted for Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate, in 2008, and notes that Baldwin has endorsed Paul this cycle.
"I do not believe in voting for the lesser of two evils," McClellan said. "It's still a vote for evil."
McClellan wasn't sure who he would vote for if Paul is not on the ballot. He said he could support former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson if he is the Libertarian Party candidate, but ultimately it will depend on what other third party candidates appear on the ballot.
Another Paul supporter not enamored with picking the lesser of two evils is 26-year-old Mike Mullaney. If Ron Paul isn't on the November ballot, Mullaney said he won't be casting a ballot at all.
For Mullaney, Paul's monetary policy and his opposition to the Federal Reserve System is the most important position the candidate holds.
"He really wants to break down the system that's been put in place to stifle America," Mullaney said.
After leaving Charleston, Paul is headed to Myrtle Beach. Later today he will stop in Florence, Walterboro and Greenville.