Recap of Ron Paul's Thursday visit

By Paris Achen and Stevie Mathieu

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Ron Paul draws overflow crowd in Vancouver

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul will speak at a rally in downtown Vancouver Thursday as part of his Northwest campaign tour.

The Columbian will provide live blogging of Paul's speech from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the ballroom at the Vancouver Convention Center in the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St. Doors open at 3 p.m. Participation is free and open to the public.

Paul’s appearance in Vancouver is one of several stops he’ll make on his Northwest tour.

Paul, a libertarian congressman from Texas, advocates for limited constitutional government. He is running against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

Paul will be jetting to Vancouver from Twin Falls, Idaho, where he's hosting a similar event at noon.

After his speech in Vancouver, he’ll head up to a rally near the Sea-Tac Airport. On Friday, he’ll head east to the Tri-Cities, with later stops scheduled around the Pacific Northwest.

For more politics coverage, go to http://www.columbian.com/news/politics/.

2:55 p.m.: Ron Paul's supporters have gathered on street corners around Hilton Vancouver Washington are holding up campaign signs in support of the Republican candidate. A line of nearly 500 people is winding through the hallway awaiting admission to the hotel's ballroom, where the speech will take place. The first supporter to arrive was Andrew Sneed, 23, of Portland who showed up at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. He is holding a sign in the shape of Oregon.

2:58 p.m.: Attendees with signs have been allowed into the ballroom and assembled at the front of the room, apparently for visual effect.

3:03 p.m.: Media from Portland and Vancouver and two national cable networks - Fox and NBC - are covering the event.

Supporters with signs have been asked to wave signs and cheer on Paul when he enters the ballroom. It's unclear when the rest of the attendees will be allowed to enter. Doors were scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

3:25 p.m.: The general public is being admitted into the ballroom, which has seating for more than 800 people.

Vancouver resident Jeremy Brock, 29, said he volunteered for Thursday's event becaus he supports Paul's policies.

"I think is the only candidate who is ready to make some active change," Brock said. "He has been consistent throughout the entire time he has been in office."

He said Paul is the only candidate who can fix the nation's economy.

"Although some people look at his views as drastic and dangerous, I feel he is the one who can pull the economy in the direction it should be going."

Policies that would accomplish that include Paul's plan to cut government spending and foreign aid, Brock said.

3:29 p.m.: Seats are beginning to fill up, as the campaign plays "Revolution" by Aimee Allen on the sound system.

3:37 p.m.: Organizers have opened up another room in the ballroom for attendees as seats fill up. Attendance is close to 1,000 people.

3:39 p.m.: Woodland resident Arleen Martin, 79, is among the audience. Martin said she hasn't decided which candidate she'll vote for yet. She's torn between Paul and Republican candidate Rick Santorum.

"There is nothing I've heard (from Paul) that I don't like," Martin said. "I don't think Ron Paul is going to pull the presidency, but I do feel if he can stay on top of the game, his ideas are going to penetrate to other people who are running. If he keeps pushing, then, maybe we can see some real change."

3:47 p.m.: The ballroom feels like a concert hall. A group of young people with signs are filing into the ballroom as a rock song booms from the speakers.

4:00 p.m.: Campaign organizer announces people are lined up all the way to the Interstate 5 bridge waiting to get in to the rally.

4:04 p.m.: The audience is chanting "President Paul."

4:06 p.m.: Campaign organizers are introducing local supporters, including the home school community.

4:08 p.m.: "Without further ado, the 12-term congressman from Texas." Cheers and rock music.

4:13 p.m.: Paul says country has overextended itself in debt and conflicts outside the country.

"Most people are starting ... to ask why are we wasting our resources ... overseas doing things that don't serve our interest."

4:15 p.m.: Paul says nation needs to bring troops home and abide by the nation's constitution.

4:17 p.m.: Federal Reserve needs to be abolished, he says. It serves corporate interests.

4:19 p.m.: Paul says he wants to abolish income tax.

4:21 p.m.: Federal Reserve has built illusions about the value of the currency, Paul says. It has involved itself in the financial crisis in Europe because "banks are too big to fail," he says. "That's wrong," he says.

4:23 p.m.: "When government gets bigger it only gets bigger by eating up our liberties," Paul says. "Our liberties are being threatened."

"Governments can't give us our liberty," he said. "The most they can do is protect our liberties."

4:24 p.m.: Middle class is shrinking in size and wealth, Paul says.

He says the age of deficits and inflation is over. "If we recognize that, then we can start doing better." Applause.

4:26 p.m. Government should not bail out large companies that are failing.

4:27 p.m.: Government is embracing socialism, he said.

"Governments have nothing; they produce nothing," he said. "They just take from one group and give it to another."

4:28 p.m.: Paul condemns plan to begin a new international currency. He said local government is what the nation needs. Founders wanted states to be as independent as possible, he says.

"Free people can take care of more people than all the government put together," he says. "Government will never be perfect. The closer the government is to home, the better it is."

4:31 p.m.: Government regulation is out of control and has deteriorated property rights, Paul says. He says he will shrink the size of the Federal Register.

4:38 p.m.: "We have had enough of this (government)," Paul says. "We want our freedom."

4:40 p.m.: "American interference must stop, Paul says. More than 8,500 Americans have been lost in wars. "We have to change our policies."

4:42 p.m.: "The Chinese are now our bankers, and we are beholden to them."

4:43 p.m.: Americans must protect liberties and stay at peace. The nation's accomplishments during peace far exceed those during war, Paul says. Paul voted against the Patriot Act.

4:44 p.m. "You never have to sacrifice for civil liberties." Paul opposes assassination of enemies. "Bad people are supposed to always be given trials so that Americans are assured of fair trials." He opposes suspects being incarcerated indefinitely without charges.

4:47 p.m.: Paul opposes suspects being incarcerated indefinitely without charges.

4:48 p.m.: The war on drugs is "a war on the American people." He mocks the curtailment of hemp products. "If the government tells you what you can't put in your body, then you don't own your own body."

4:50 p.m.: Drugs are deadly, but prescription drugs are becoming more dangerous than illegal drugs, Paul said.

4:51 p.m.: He says it is ridiculous that the government prohibits raw milk.

4:52 p.m.: The founders knew "freedom was freedom." Some leaders have lost touch with that principle, Paul says. "We come together because we all want to make our own choices."

4:53 p.m.: "irate tireless minority" is getting bigger and bigger, Paul says.

4:58 p.m.: Financial system is fragile, Paul says. Civil liberties are in danger. Says he is still an optimist. " I believe we can restore America."

4:59 p.m.: Crowd chants "president Paul" as Paul leaves the ballroom. Ron Paul's next stop is Seattle.