BY DRAKE RHONE
Editor’s note: Senator Rand Paul has since dropped out of the race for president. Paul received just over 8,400 votes during the Iowa caucus.
Last Thursday, Jan. 28, before the first Trump supporters had started to line up, hundreds of people crowded into Pomerantz Stage to listen to Republican candidate Rand Paul.
Many of the rally-goers were staunch supporters and volunteers for the campaign, but in the back of the rally a crowd of unaffiliated Drake students had formed to listen to Paul.
“I like some of his ideas,” said AJ Treiber, a first-year who stood in the middle of the pack. “He seemed pretty consistent, and I think he’s one of the most consistent candidates in the election.”
Seeing Rand Paul speak in person changed Treiber’s view of the candidate. “My opinion of him is definitely more positive,” Treiber said. “(The rally) is a lot better than just seeing sound bits on TV and stuff like that.”
Treiber said that he has not decided who he would like for the presidential nominees. He does plan to keep up with politics around campus, but is registered in Illinois and will not be participating in the Iowa caucus.
While AJ said that he was influenced by the rally, several other Drake students at the event were not swayed. Student Ellen Converse said that she would not caucus for Paul.
“He’s against gay marriage,” said Converse, who said that the candidate’s stance on this issue was her largest reservation about him.
The celebrity factor of all presidential candidates is one reason to attend events. “For me, it was that I more wanted to go for the experience,” freshman Lindsey Gilberg said. “Since there’s so many candidates on campus I want to be able to say that I got to hear all these different people speak. It was just exciting that I got to see a Republican candidate more than that I got to see Rand Paul.”
Gilberg went into the rally expecting different talking points from Paul’s speech.
“I was pleasantly surprised with him wanting to limit the NSA,” Gilberg said. “He was very Black Lives Matter-y about repealing laws that unfairly incarcerate low socio-economic classes and minorities.”
Paul is unique in the major Republican candidates of the 2016 election. Like his father before him, he has several views that represent Libertarian ideals.
“I think it’s interesting when you come in as a Libertarian and say that you’re willing to work with the Republicans,” said Gilberg. “I think it shows good bi-partisanship at some level. It’s only when your views start becoming more Republican that there’s a problem.”