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Published March 06 2012

Paul preaches limited government, personal liberty in Fargo

FARGO – The conservative principles of limited government and personal liberty dominated Ron Paul‘s address to enthusiastic caucus-goers here tonight.

The GOP presidential candidate rallied Republican voters for 20 minutes while setting his sights on a statewide victory tonight in the North Dakota caucuses.

“The government is designed to protect our liberties and nothing else,” Paul said to a roar of cheers, whistles and applause from hundreds gathered at the Ramada Plaza Suites.

In his address, Paul touched on the economy, foreign wars and federal spending – all while advocating for less power in the federal government and oozing American patriotism.

“We need much more openness of government and much more protection of our privacy,” Paul said. “Those who accuse us of going backwards are going backwards toward tyranny and we don’t need to go in that direction. Thank you for joining me tonight in that effort to restore liberty.”

Paul, a conservative libertarian, said both the Democratic and Republican parties are to blame for the nation’s fiscal problems. If elected, Paul said in his first year in office he would “cut the budget in real terms by $1 trillion.”

“I’m optimistic to believe we can turn this around, but we have to cut the spending,” Paul said.

Paul took more than twice the amount of time to speak than supporters for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who were given only 10 minutes total to lobby for their chosen candidate before Paul took the stage.

After Paul’s speech, North Dakota Republican Party Executive Director Anthony Reedy explained that they’d asked Paul to keep it short, but “we were hesitant to cut him off.”

“If any of the other presidential candidates had come here, we would’ve shown them the same respect,” Reedy said.

Audience members – the majority of whom passionately supported Paul – booed the Romney and Santorum supporters and drowned them out at times by talking over them.

The show of disrespect prompted Paul’s deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari to ask the crowd to “be polite” to the other speakers and let them have their say.

Some caucus-goers came from as far as Lisbon and Grand Forks to vote and hear Paul speak, rather than vote in their home districts, NDGOP Chairman Stan Stein said.

Casselton resident Kirk Rosin cast his caucus vote for Santorum, saying he was committed after the candidate’s visit to Fargo last month.

“I really felt his values and his positions matched what I felt was important,” Rosin said, referencing Santorum’s social conservatism.

Inside the caucus room, the 10 Fargo-area districts remained busy this evening with a consistent stream of voters. After each ballot was submitted, voters were required to press their thumbs on an ink pad, which would prevent them from casting more than one ballot.

Voting for the North Dakota caucuses closes at 8 p.m. central time – however, because of the two time zones, some western districts will finish voting at 9 p.m. central.

Results are expected to begin flowing in after 8:30 p.m. Stein will announce the caucus winner later tonight.