Paul in Milford seeking support

Newly declared presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul brought his message of limited government to a noontime rally Wednesday at Milford Town Hall.

Paul told more than 500 people who crowded into the auditorium that the national debt is a “powder keg” and we need to return to government restraint, in taxation and foreign policy.

“A government that takes half your pay is not free. A government that shifts through your personal records” is not free, he said as the crowd chanted “President Paul, President Paul.”

“I will fight for your right to be left alone,” he said.

The Kentucky Republican is the second GOP candidate, after U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, to declare his candidacy, which he did in his home state on Tuesday.

“We the people need to rise up and demand action. Congress will never balance the budget unless we force it to,” said Paul, who declared himself in favor of term limits and said unrestrained government power is the enemy within, while radical Islam is the enemy without.

Invoking both Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King Jr., he referred to King’s speech about “two starkly different Americas and the need to ‘break down the wall that separates us.’?”

“I have a vision for America that everyone who wants to have a job will have a job,” he said, adding that government stimulus programs seem to increase the gap between the rich and poor.

Instead, Paul proposed “economic freedom zones” for places like Detroit, with tax breaks that “leave more money in their pockets.”

Drug laws that “disproportionately incarcerate people of color” should be repealed, he said, and his presidency would be “unencumbered by overseas nation-building.”

“Not one penny more for the haters of America,” and the $2 trillion in American profits that are overseas can be brought back by lowering taxes, Paul said.

On his first day in office, he would immediately end “the vast dragnet” of government surveillance, he vowed.

During the 45-minute speech, Paul stood on a raised podium in the center of the auditorium wearing a red tie and no jacket.

He talked about why he became an eye surgeon, inspired by his grandmother’s diagnosis of macular degeneration, and worried that “opportunity and hope are seeping away from young people.” Both parties are to blame, and the U.S. debt is damaging our economy and our security, he said, to cheers and shouts from the audience.

Some of the loudest “boos” from the audience came after a mention of the Common Core education standards.

Among those warming up the crowd before the candidate’s entrance were state Sen. Andy Sanborn; the Rev. Michael Saco, of the First Baptist Church of Amherst; and state Rep. Victoria Sullivan.

Before Paul’s speech, Bedford resident Laura Condon, of the National Vaccine Information Center, said she was interested in whether the candidate would say anything more about vaccine choice. Paul has said vaccinations should be voluntary and can lead to mental disorders.

Paul didn’t mention vaccines or abortion, another divisive social issue, on Wednesday. There was no question-and-answer session.

Seated early in one of the few chairs in the auditorium was Norman Cote, of Milford. He said he came because “I wanted to hear from anyone who is not supported by Saudi Arabia.”

His wife, Polly, said she liked the slogan on one the signs: “Defeat the Washington Machine.”

“I said to my husband, ‘It’s so close, we can’t miss this.’?”

There were about 550 people in the auditorium, according to Gary Williams, of the Milford Fire Department.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@nashua