As the only Republican candidate for president to address Nevada's oldest Latino political organization Wednesday morning, Rep. Ron Paul got high marks for bravery. All were invited; only he showed up.
He was cheered by members of Hispanics in Politics when he talked about bringing American troops home from "wars we shouldn't be involved in." The audience -- dozens of politically active Latinos who gathered in an eastside community center -- applauded Paul the civil libertarian when he slammed drug laws that unfairly target minorities. They even cheered his defense of the gold standard.
Immigration, however, was another story.
The 12-term Texas congressman spent the better part of a 25-minute address thinking aloud about the thorny subject. He talked about how Americans are more accepting of outsiders when the economy is good, but when trouble looms there is a search for scapegoats.
"I believe Hispanics have been used as scapegoats, to say, they're the problem instead of being a symptom maybe of a problem with the welfare state," Paul told the group. "In Nazi Germany they had to have scapegoats to blame and they turned on the Jews.
"Now there's a lot of antagonism and resentment turned just automatically on immigrants," he continued. "You say, no not immigrants, it's just illegal immigrants. I do believe in legal immigration. I want to have a provision to obey those laws. You have to understand this in the context of the economy."
Paul said he's not one of those politicians who believes that "barbed-wire fences and guns on our border will solve any of our problems." That's not, he said, the American way. And he doesn't think that a national identification card is the way to go.
What the country does need, he said, is "a much better immigration service" fed by more resources. Not that he'd "vote for extra money." But he does, he told the crowd, have a plan.