Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) got a hero’s welcome from the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
Paul — who won last year’s presidential straw poll in a landslide that angered mainstream Republicans — has long been a favorite of the conservative activists that come to CPAC, and on Friday he delivered a crowd-pleasing speech.
Entering to thundering applause, Paul started his speech with a call not simply to throw Democrats out of office but to “change our philosophy of what this whole country is all about.”
Paul then ran through a list of conservative favorites, calling for the end of the Federal Reserve, attacking the “military industrial complex,” denouncing foreign aid programs as “taking money from the poor people of a rich country and giving it to the rich people of poor country” and calling for protections of the First Amendment.
Paul also took a shot at his party’s leaders, chiding them for attempting to pass a USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization in the House.
To approving boos, Paul argued that the USA PATRIOT Act “has nothing to do with patriotism. They always name it the opposite of what it is. The PATRIOT Act is literally the destruction of the Fourth Amendment.”
Paul also became the only presidential hopeful to make any reference to the collapse of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship Friday, arguing that anger toward Mubarak is partially rooted in the United States’ long-standing support.
“We need to do a lot less a lot sooner not only in Egypt but around the world,” Paul argued, complaining, “How much did we invest in that dictator over the last 30 years? 70 billion dollars.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.