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Published February 20, 2012, 12:19 AM

Ron Paul Sees ND as 'Opportunity'

WILLISTON, N.D. – About 800 Ron Paul supporters and undecided voters filled a school auditorium here Sunday, hours after a crowd of more than 200 gathered in Dickinson to hear the Republican presidential candidate speak.

By: April Baumgarten and Amy Dalrymple, Forum Communications

WILLISTON, N.D. – About 800 Ron Paul supporters and undecided voters filled a school auditorium here Sunday, hours after a crowd of more than 200 gathered in Dickinson to hear the Republican presidential candidate speak.

“We were assuming the other candidates might just ignore North Dakota,” Paul said during his stop in Dickinson. “We saw it as an opportunity, and we have had a lot of support come through here and we have a lot of friends here.”

Paul, a U.S. Congressman from Texas, drew loud cheers for his message that emphasizes personal freedom and limited government.

“If you let the people go to work, let the market work, let them produce something, the economy does better,” Paul said. “There’s no reason why you can’t look at what’s happened in this state and apply that to the rest of the county.”

While in Dickinson, Paul said North Dakota oil is an important part of the national economy. He said he supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would link Canada to Texas with pipeline to transport oil but was rejected by President Barack Obama.

“What is disgusting to me about that is that one person in our country, even if he is the president, can make or break something that important,” Paul said. “If I’m president, I’m not going to act like a king and pretend I have that much power.”

During Paul’s stop in Williston, which was organized by the nonpartisan think tank the North Dakota Policy Council, Paul received loud applause when he talked about eliminating the federal reserve. He also said he would cut $1 trillion from the budget.

Several in the front row wore Veterans for Ron Paul shirts and applauded for Paul’s comments on foreign policy.

“It isn’t our business and it isn’t our right to go around the world telling other people how they have to live,” Paul said.

Most who attended the Williston event appeared to be strong Paul supporters, while others were there to hear what he had to say.

“I wanted to be part of history,” said Williston resident Steve Atwell.

Scott Erlandsen, a lifelong Williston resident, said he first heard of Paul in 2008 and after researching him, he’s become a strong supporter. He likes that Paul follows through with his promises.

“He kind of restored my hope in politicians,” Erlandsen said.

Leon Raad, a pastor from Tioga, said he likes that Paul wants to restrict the role of government.

“I feel like the government is becoming more and more oppressive on personal freedoms,” Raad said.

At the Dickinson event, Kayla Kessel of Belfield and Kyle Steffan of Dickinson showed their support by making signs that said “Rick Santorum hates puppies. Ron Paul loves puppies. Vote for puppies! Vote Ron Paul 2012.”

“It was more so of a character view, but now our analogy is puppies are the American people,” Kessel said. “He is for the American people.”

“I just think that Ron Paul has more character,” Steffan said.

Paul will speak at Republican district conventions in Jamestown and Bismarck today. The event in Jamestown begins at 1 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, after which he will make his way to Shiloh Christian Elementary School in Bismarck to speak at 5:30 p.m.


April Baumgarten writes for the Dickinson Press.

Amy Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.

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