RICHMOND, Va. - With hours remaining before voters go to the polls to choose a governor in Virginia, former Rep. Ron Paul vouched on Monday for the libertarian credentials of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who faces a fight for Republican votes from a third party gubernatorial candidate.
"I don't know whether Ken calls himself a libertarian or not, but I know he's a constitutionalist, so he's an ally," Paul told an enthusiastic and markedly younger crowd at an event in Richmond Monday night.
Since leaving Congress and running for president in 2012, Paul has rarely delivered public speeches, and his presence on the campaign trail is an even greater rarity, but it does speak to the significant threat Cuccinelli has faced from libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.
Throughout the campaign, Sarvis has siphoned away some right of center voters who would otherwise gravitate to the Republican Party candidate. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed Sarvis drawing the support of 8 percent of likely voters, 7 percent of whom are Republicans.
A vote for Cuccinelli, Paul said, is a vote against a worse alternative.
"The McAuliffes of the world and the Obamas of the world will come and destroy our liberties," Paul warned.
He said that the race has attracted the attention of those who want to expand the reach of the federal government.
"Ken has been targeted because they want to humiliate those who stand up against the federal government," Paul said.
Cuccinelli spent the day skipping throughout the state with his final pitch to voters - one that frames his entire candidacy around his opposition to Obama's health care law.
Tonight, speaking to libertarian voters, Cuccinelli framed his opposition to the Affordable Care Act as part of a broader ideological battle against the expansion of government.
"The biggest invasion of liberty, legislative invasion of liberty in my lifetime has been Obamacare," Cuccinelli said.
"If the government can order you what to buy and when to buy it, you are less free," he added.
Cuccinelli has been attacked by his opponent Democrat Terry McAuliffe and a slew of allies on the left, including Planned Parenthood, largely over social issues.
Yet with the exception of denouncing the "lies" of his opponents, Cuccinelli has studiously focused on the health care law and economic issues rather than the social issues that have been used as a wedge in this race.
Paul, however, did not skirt around the subject.
He deliberated on what he considered the country's "moral" quandary of abortion, one that he said is essential to his libertarian world view.
"Why should, if a girl delivers a baby and drowns the baby gets rid of the baby, and then she's arrested for a homicide, but if she comes to a doctor the doctor makes thousands of dollars doing the abortion," Paul asked. "That has to be resolved as a social matter.
"I think that whole issue has to do with the morality of the issue," he said.