Hot on the heels of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Iowa, Ron Paul is rallying the youth vote and drawing big crowds.
Speaking to a standing-room-only gathering of more than 1,000 college-age students in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night, Paul declared again that the war on drugs had been a failure, reminding the audience that more people had died in preventing people from using drugs than from the drugs themselves.
"I'm just not frightened by a free society," said Paul. "I'm frightened by those who prevent us from having a free society. That's where the real threats are."
The Paul campaign has picked up steam and has its sights set on new national front-runner Newt Gingrich, by going after the anti-Washington, anti-establishment voters. Paul's speech Thursday night again attacked the Patriot Act, telling the audience that it passed quickly and overwhelmingly even though it contained "a lot of bad stuff."
Gingrich and Paul sparred over the Patriot Act during a recent CNN debate in which Gingrich advocated for strengthening the law, which provides law enforcement authorities enhanced tools to combat terrorism.
Paul refuted it, instead imploring "not to sacrifice liberty for security." Gingrich shot back that he didn't want to lose an American city before action was taken.
Paultalked at great length Thursday night about the perils of foreign intervention, telling the audience that the U.S. needed to return to a "sensible foreign policy" and "start minding our own business and start bringing all the troops home."
Although the line received a very enthusiastic response from the audience, Paul's foreign policy views are apparently one of his greatest weaknesses. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, almost half of all respondents said Paul's foreign policy views were a major reason to reject him.
Paul traditionally draws a great deal of enthusiasm from young supporters. A speech at Louisiana State University in September drew an estimated 1,200 people and a speech at Webster Hall in New York that same month pulled in an even larger crowd. Paul will hold another youth rally Friday night at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
Paul said that he gets excited when young people visit his office, adding that they "believe something needs to be done," said Paul.