(MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa) — In Mount Pleasant, Iowa’s civic center, a standing-room-only crowd of both young and old packed into a room on Wednesday to hear Ron Paul. The crowd cheered when he spoke about ending the nation’s military intervention and criticized this administration’s foreign policy, saying now the “whole world is a stage for the war against terror.”
“We can bomb and kill and even assassinate American citizens,” Paul said to cheers from the crowd before laying into the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that militarizes the handling of terrorism suspects and limits the president’s options for prosecuting or releasing the suspects.
“This gives the authority to the military to arrest American citizens who may be associated with a group that may have done something wrong,” Paul said. “If you happen to be arrested because you were on the wrong website, or talked to the wrong people or donated to the wrong group and you were associated with this group if you are picked up, on the Senate floor they said, ‘Don’t come to us and ask us for a lawyer, you’re not going to get one.’ And this is on the Senate floor!”
Paul told the crowd of about 80, many wearing Ron Paul stickers and T-shirts, that the only way to stop “perpetual wars overseas” is the “old fashioned way.”
“Don’t fight a war unless it’s declared by the Congress and the people,” Paul exclaimed to cheers from the audience.
The crowd gave its most raucous applause when he said that as president he would eliminate both foreign aid and the personal income tax.
“We should work on this effort to re-instill in our society that prosperity and people who work should be able to keep what they earn and spend their own money, not have the government spend your money,” Paul said.
Paul’s organization, which has been building in Iowa since his last campaign, is helping the Texas congressman lead the polls.
On Wednesday, when asked who he might pick as his vice president, he answered with a grin, “I guess I have to get more serious about that after Jan. 3!”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Lee Montana Newspapers
Dylan Byers, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN