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Ron Paul rallies hard-core supporters with libertarian tour de force

NEWTON, Iowa - Republican presidential contender Ron Paul, largely dismissed both by the mainstream media and many in the general population, nonetheless has the endorsement of an invigorated core of supporters who may propel him to victory in the Iowa caucuses.

A crowd braved a winter chill, and gave up other holiday week diversions, to visit the dormant infield of a summer playground so they could hear the Texas congressman deliver a libertarian tour de force.

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He not only repeated his pledge to cut $1 trillion in federal spending during his first year as president, but also a foreign policy mantra that would recall US troops from hundreds of foreign bases and diminish the country’s role a values enforcer.

Instead, Paul called for a return to a minimalist government focused on preserving liberty and adhering to the Constitution.

Audience questions touched on returning the country to the gold standard (ideally, over time), creeping government control of the Internet (privacy regulations are a Trojan horse), and whether the Peace Corps would be funded in a Paul administration (No).

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And amid increasing attacks from rivals such as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, as well as criticism for the rhetoric in some congressional newsletters distributed under his name, the 76-year-old Paul ignored the noise - and questions - to remain steadfast in his vision for the country.

“There’s a lot of status quo politicians out there,” he said. “If you pick another status quo politician, nothing’s going to change.”

Paul repeated the remarks, though with a more rambling delivery, later in the day at an insurance company headquarters in West Des Moines.

Paul repeated the remarks, though with a more rambling delivery, later in the day at the headquarters of GuideOne, a church insurance company, in West Des Moines.

REPORTER’S DIARY:

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011

Locations: Des Moines; Newton, Iowa; West Des Moines, Iowa; Des Moines.

Mileage driven: 88 miles

See the map here.

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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