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  • Staff photo by Bruce Preston

    Paul Searles, right, of Nashua, had an opportunity to speak with Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul on Saturday afternoon the Nesmith Library in Windham. Paul made a campaign appearance in front of a crowd of more than 75 people at the library.
  • Staff photo by Bruce Preston

    Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul speaks with supporters on Saturday afternoon the Nesmith Library in Windham. Paul made a campaign appearance in front of a crowd of more than 75 people at the library.
Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paul touts free markets, blasts raising the debt ceiling during Windham speech

WINDHAM – Preaching to the choir of roughly 50 supporters – including elderly GOP conservatives, young libertarians and Austrian vs. Keynesian economic theory geeks – presidential candidate Ron Paul sung the virtues of free markets and limited government, and demonized raising the debt limit. He also advocated for discontinuing the Bush Doctrine of foreign policy, which he said has been furthered by President Obama. The Nesmith Library stop was one of several the Republican congressman from Texas made in Derry, Salem and Windham on Saturday morning and afternoon.

In a 40-minute speech and subsequent question-and-answer session, Paul hammered familiar themes of reducing the role of the federal government in domestic and foreign matters, while expanding the protection of personal liberties.

“If you want government, it should be local,” said Paul, 76, who has run for president twice before – once as a libertarian party candidate, in which he won his party’s endorsement, and once unsuccessfully for the Republican Party endorsement.

He is again running for the Republican nomination, in which he faces an uphill struggle against the early front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

For decades, and through the administrations of both parties, the country has been led down the wrong path by well-intentioned men, Paul said.

“Intention is irrelevant,” Paul said. “It’s whether you have the right ideas or the wrong ideas. I believe our country has been following wrong ideas for a long time.”

In international relations, those wrong ideas include trying to be the world’s police, and wanting to impose our system and ideal of freedom through military intervention and aggression, Paul said.

“The use of aggression, the practice of going around the world and telling other people how to live, is just not very appealing to me,” Paul said.

Paul criticized a policy, started under Bush and expanded, he said, under Obama, in which the U.S. feels justified in invading sovereign nations not in retaliation, but to prevent threats or imagined threats.

Building huge military bases in Iraq and elsewhere will not make the United States safe in the long run, he said. Paul used the example of Vietnam, which became friendly with the U.S. through free trade after the war.

On the domestic front, continuing to raise the debt limit sets the table for an economic crisis down the road, as interest rates increase and money loses its value, Paul said. He said he will not support raising the debt ceiling when the vote comes to Congress.

“If we do raise the debt limit, we’ll just be depending on the fed to print more money,” Paul said.

The purpose of the federal government should be to protect liberty, Paul said.

Costly over-extensions of government should be cut to reduce debt, he said. Paul said he favors dismantling or severely reducing the federal departments of education, agriculture and energy. Paul said some of the difficult social issues of these times “should be handled at the local level.”

Paul added he favored allowing people to opt out of such entitlement programs as Social Security.

Paul’s penchant for attracting young, intellectually bent libertarians came apparent in the questions that followed his speech. Several questions delved into the intricacies of Austrian economic theory, a hyper-free market system generally dismissed by modern economists but espoused by Paul and many libertarians.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.