Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said Saturday his presidency would restore to Americans liberties that have evaporated as the federal government has grown larger in the past 40 years.
Liberty is the one word the Texas congressman would use to describe the main theme of his campaign, Paul told an estimated crowd of about 1,300 on the south plaza of the state Capitol.
“That's what made the country great, and that's what we're losing, and that's why we're not so great anymore, and that's why there's revolution going on,” he told a cheering crowd. “I'm sure glad the revolution has arrived in Oklahoma because it is spreading. It is an intellectual revolution. ... It cannot be stopped by armies or any government.
“The government keeps growing, but where we're making inroads is with you,” he said. “The people are waking up, but Washington still is sound asleep. They don't hear from us yet, but that is our job ... to let them get the message what we need in this country and that's more liberty.”
In a wide-ranging 30-minute speech, Paul said he opposes restrictions placed on Americans since the 9/11 terrorism attacks. He said he is against the surveillance and search powers of the Patriot Act and would work to repeal it if elected president.
“When we get around to repealing it, we're not going to say we're repealing the Patriot Act; we're going to say restore the Fourth Amendment to this country,” he said.
Paul encouraged supporters to vote for him March 6 in Oklahoma's presidential preferential primary; after his speech, he denied reports that he may drop out and support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination.
“No, never,” he said.
Paul said during his speech he is worried the country's fragile economy could collapse and that America could be back in a recession in as soon as six months.
“We are not a productive nation,” he said. “We're living on borrowed money.”
Paul said unemployment figures are actually closer to 20 percent, or more than twice as high as official government estimates.
The country's middle class is shrinking, he said. At one time, the United States had the largest and wealthiest middle class in the world.
Paul said his suggestions to improve the economy include fully auditing — and then ending — the Federal Reserve System, which has enabled more than a 95 percent reduction of what the dollar can buy. It continues to create money to finance future debt, which is heading the country toward a financial disaster, he said.
Paul told the crowd, which had a large number of young people, that he also would eliminate income taxes. He said he would work to repeal the 16th Amendment, which allows Congress to levy an income tax.
“We ought to have the right to keep the fruits of our labor,” he said.