Potential presidential candidate Rand Paul makes UI appearance


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Walking along the Pentacrest walkway on a cool April evening, flanked by a handful of staff, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said there’s a growing political force among young Americans.

“I think young people are interested and hungry,” he told The Daily Iowan.

The freshman senator and possible 2012 presidential contender said he thinks the organization Young Americans for Liberty has grown rapidly across America and the youth interest plays a vital role in the election.

Paul spoke to an audience of roughly 80 in the Macbride Auditorium on April 1. The University of Iowa Young Americans for Liberty and Iowa Campaign for Liberty cosponsored the event.

Ani DeGroot, the president of the UI chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, contended that growth of the group both statewide and nationally has been phenomenal. The UI chapter started during the 2010 spring semester with four students and since has grown to roughly 60.

“I think the reason it’s growing so rapidly is that the message of liberty really resonates with students,” DeGroot said.

Paul criticized Democrats for what he labeled excessive spending and control, in addition to finding fault in his own party for not getting tough enough in addressing the growing national debt.

“He is the only one who’s getting up there and making a courageous statement,” DeGroot said.

Cary Covington, a UI political-science associate professor, said Paul’s views looking into the future largely appeals to the younger generation.

“I think that sort of naturally plays to the sentiments of younger people,” he said. “They’re looking for the future and want their chance to succeed.”

Though Paul hasn’t officially said he’ll run for president, he said he would support his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, if the elder Paul chooses to run. Ron Paul ran for president in the 2008 election.

“The only thing I’ve decided is that I won’t run against my dad,” Rand Paul said.

Ron Paul, who represents the 14th District in Texas, visited the UI campus last month.

Rand Paul said young people were politically attracted to his father, who didn’t “play into the whole political game.”

Paul said he senses the importance Iowa will play in the coming election and intends to capitalize on it.

“I want to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012,” Paul said. “One of the ways to have influence is in Iowa.”

Though Margaret Murphy, the president of the UI Democrats, agreed overall there was a growing political interest among a younger generation, which grew out of the 2008 election, she doubts either Paul will be a front-runner in the upcoming election.

“I think a lot of [politicians] are focused on tapping into that group as well,” she said.

Jackson Cameron, a 16-year-old from West High who waited to speak to Rand Paul, said he agreed with the issues he addressed, including giving more power to smaller, local governments.

This wasn’t the senator’s only stop in Iowa over the weekend. He promoted his book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, and served as the keynote speaker for the Iowa Republican’s “Night of the Rising Stars” event on April 2.

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