The shirt I purchased for $15 had paid off. Not only was I in Ritchie Coliseum to see Ron Paul, but I was in the third row. If I had a good enough shot I could probably spit on Paul from where I was sitting.
The place was packed. People were looking around and waving their hands to get the attention of others that they knew. It took until 6:43 p.m. for people to start chanting. One guy, donning a brown Ron Paul sweater, was running up and down the center aisle leading the cheers.
He yelled, “Ron Paul revolution,” for the crowd to respond, “Legalize the Constitution.”
He screamed “President,” for the crowd to respond, “Paul.”
He began a lingering, simple chant, “End the Fed,” (referencing Paul’s belief that the Federal Reserve has to go).
The crowd was getting wild. They were stomping on the bleachers as if they were waiting for a kickoff in a football game. I could see Paul behind the glass doors in the back of Ritchie. First a student came out to introduce him.
I recognized this student. It was the tan, black-haired fellow who had gotten me to sign the petition to bring Ron Paul to campus who I wrote about in my first post. It was then I realized the petition I signed brought me to that moment right there. Everything had come full circle.
After the student thanked everyone who helped bring Paul to campus, he introduced the man himself. The crowd stood and roared, not even giving Paul a chance to speak.
Finally he said his first words, “Sounds to me like freedom is popular in Maryland.” The crowd roared again.
Paul referenced that this university had one of the highest, if not the highest most signatures to bring him to campus. The revolution had come to College Park.
Then Paul went about his platform. He trashed mandates, said that nobody on “the hill” reads the Constitution, criticized selective service and he referenced America’s “way too many unwinnable, undeclared wars.”
He spoke of hypocrisy — that America was being an aggressive nation in order to spread kindness.
It was the most serious I had ever seen him when he asked, “Why don’t we just mind our own business?” The crowd stood and went crazy. At that moment I got chills.
Using the collapse of the Soviet Union as an example, Paul put forth the notion that more can be achieved in peace than in war. He also talked about how the country should begin trading with Cuba.
The crowd was responsive the whole time: cheering when he made a stern point, booing when he made a reference to something that the crowd disliked and laughing when he cracked a joke. Eventually the audience broke into an “End the Fed” chant.
Paul responded, “That will be one of the first things on my agenda.”
The crowd went nuts, and Paul went into why he dislikes the Federal Reserve. He also talked about how he would repeal the Patriot Act with a bill that he would call the Restore the 4th Amendment Act.
Although the crowd loved him, for me, time dragged on as he spoke.
Finally, at 7:55, he mentioned delegates — the main reason his campaign has any hope. The crowd erupted in chants of “President Paul.” This was just about the end of his speech.
He stepped down from his podium and I participated in a rush to the front. I had my memo book out for an autograph, my camera out for a picture and my hand out for a shake. I wanted to cap my night of journalistic work with the man’s blessing.
All for naught, though, as he stopped shaking hands and signing things when he was about five people away from me. I did not leave Ritchie disappointed though. I saw the revolution first hand. I was on the trail.
Juan Cervantes is a junior history major and student blogger for The Diamondback