By Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –
MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Rep. Ron Paul made his first stop in Wisconsin Thursday in advance of Tuesday’s presidential primary in the most unlikely of Republican venues — the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus.
Paul told the thousands gathered at a “town hall meeting” at the Memorial Union Terrace that he is often asked why young people are interested in him.
“One reason — they’re getting a bad deal,” he said, citing the debt they are inheriting from past spending decisions.
A doctor and congressman from Texas who ran on the Libertarian Party ticket for president in 1988, Paul advocated Thursday for cutting spending by $1 trillion, ending the income tax, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, repealing the USA Patriot Act and advancing a much smaller federal government to preserve personal liberty.
“What if we had only people in Washington who had actually read the Constitution and obeyed the Constitution?” he said to roars of approval.
And Paul discussed at length his pet cause of returning to the gold standard and dissolving the Federal Reserve. The central bank’s printing of money “debases the economy” and leads to boom-and-bust economic cycles, he said.
The crowd greeted his idea with chants of “End the Fed! End the Fed!”
Paul drew 2,500 to the event, according to estimates by UW Police. It came after former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania spent several days campaigning around the state, and on the same night former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has led recent polls in Wisconsin, has had a heavy presence on the air and will make his first primary visits to the state on Friday, with stops in Appleton and Milwaukee.
Although down in the polls, Paul indicated he planned to stay in the race for the long haul.
Reporters “keep saying, ‘When are you going to drop out of the race?’” Paul said. “They say, ‘When are you going to start compromising?” My answer to that is there’s been way too much compromising for way too long.”
His backers at the event said they wanted him to stick with his campaign. Clyde Tedrick of Madison said he supported Paul because he stuck by his beliefs and was committed to fiscal responsibility. He said he would vote for Paul in November no matter what names are on the ballot.
“I’ll write him in if I have to,” said Tedrick, 33, who works in information technology.
Dominique Uhl, 35, of Franklin, has been supporting Paul for years, ever since she learned of his support for withdrawing from the United Nations. She said she is counting on Paul to stay in the race, and wants the other Republicans to do the same because she believes it would lead to Paul clinching the nomination.
“I want all of them to stay in,” she said. “I want us to get a brokered convention because then America’s voice will be heard.”
She said conservatives and independents would rally around Paul if they understood his policies better and were not afraid to rally behind someone who is not committed to the usual kind of politics.
“If more Americans voted their conscience instead of the lesser of two evils,” she said, “we’d see change.”
In a brief talk with reporters after his event, Paul said he did not know many details about the expected recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but showed support for him.
“He’s trying hard to change things I think in a positive way,” Paul said.
Asked if he backed the law Walker advocated and signed last year to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public workers, Paul said: “I think the market should dictate everything.”