Amid chants of “President Paul,” much of the crowd rose from their seats, waving signs and American flags and drumming on the tarp lining the Los Angeles Tennis Center court.
“Liberty is a young idea. Maybe that’s why young people like the idea of freedom,” Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul had just said. “Intellectually, the revolution is well on its way.”
Paul spoke to a crowd of more than 5,000 people Wednesday at the tennis center. He addressed the packed stadium from a lectern in the center of the court.
Paul’s campaign platform focuses on drastic cuts in government spending and “interventionism,” or the involvement of government in individuals’ daily lives and decisions.
Paul reiterated these points Wednesday night, feeding off the support of the crowd and urging a revolution in the name of individual liberties.
He got the most cheers from the crowd when he spoke in favor of legalizing marijuana and allowing individuals to make their own choices.
“If somebody wants to put something into their body that is potentially dangerous, that should be their decision, not the government’s,” Paul said.
The rally was hosted by Youth for Ron Paul at UCLA, a group that has been working since January to bring Paul to UCLA, said Tyler Koteskey, a first-year political science and history student and president of UCLA’s chapter of the group.
California’s primaries are not until June, but Paul is trying to reach out to the youth demographic and California voters, both of whom have shown their support for the candidate, said Edward King, national youth director for the campaign.
Paul is far behind the other three candidates in the Republican race, with 51 delegates. It’s unlikely he’ll run against President Barack Obama in November, said John Zaller, a political science professor.
Paul said after the rally that students are important in achieving his goals.
“I don’t think any real changes can come about if you don’t have young people on your side,” he said.
Some were adamant in their support for Paul, while others were there to hear what he had to say.
“I wanted to form my own opinion and not be swayed by the media,” said Adam Garelik, a first-year political science student.
Garelik said he enjoyed the rally but found Paul’s arguments mostly unrealistic.
“I don’t see how (Paul) would ever implement his policies,” Garelik said. “(Going to) the rally sort of strengthened my views toward (Republican candidate Mitt) Romney.”
Bruin Democrats President Jonathan Bash, a third-year political science student, was also at the rally. He said it was good to see young people getting involved with politics.
“Some of Paul’s ideas should be listened to and taken into account by both parties,” Bash said.