A thousand or so raucous supporters packed a Reno ballroom to hear Rep. Ron Paul spread what he likes to call his “message of liberty” Thursday evening. They booed Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. They cheered the idea of the gold standard.
They whooped and hollered when the 76-year-old, flanked by his wife, Carol, and two of his 18 grandchildren, talked about bringing American troops home from overseas, which he said would save money and lives both.
But Afghanistan wasn’t the only war that was on the Texas congressman’s mind as he stumped in his political heartland – libertarian northern Nevada. The drug war was also front and center, and it’s a war that “undermines our liberty as much as anything,” Paul declared.
“There are so many stories of the FBI and other police agencies breaking in because they suspect somebody’s using drugs,” Paul said, as supporters shouted “Liberty!” and “The 4th Amendment’s gone!”
“This is the insanity of the whole war on drugs,” he continued. “We tried a few decades ago, Prohibition. Prohibition doesn’t work. Prohibition backfires.... The use of force to mold personal behavior, the use of force to try to make everybody equal economically or abusing force to tell other countries how to live, it doesn’t work.”
That’s a message that particularly appealed to 21-year-old Kevin Foxcroft, a medical marijuana user from nearby Sparks.
Foxcroft, who was recently laid off from his job as a land surveyor for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said he believes that the economy would benefit if American troops came home from Afghanistan and if “we can end all these agencies,” the Drug Enforcement Administration chief among them.
“As a medicinal patient, I don’t like the DEA,” Foxcroft said. “What I do personally, the government should not know.”
As much as he supports Paul and plans to caucus on his behalf Saturday, Foxcroft had to admit that his attention wandered a bit during the 40-minute speech. Because front and center in the big ballroom were Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch, and Cami Parker, one of the Bunnies.
Halfway through the speech, Parker pulled out her smartphone and knelt in front of the stage to shoot video of her candidate – no mean feat in platform stilettos and a form-fitting, hot pink miniskirt.
“I was sitting two rows back,” Foxcroft said, “and my eyes were 51% on Ron Paul and 49% on her. Sorry, I’m a dude. And, yes, I have visited the brothel a couple of times. You gotta support the local economy.”
And as for Parker, 25, who is drawn to Paul for his belief in states' rights and individual rights?
“I was very, very impressed,” she said as a crowd gathered around to have pictures taken – with her, not the candidate. “Even more so than I was before. Honestly? I have a little crush.”