Ron Paul

Moses and handguns

They were the two presidential campaigns meant to motivate the disenchanted and the unaffiliated. But the rallies held over the weekend by Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Rep. Ron Paul highlighted the differences between their policies, their crowds, and their successes.

Almost a year to the day after Obama's afternoon rally at Auditorium Shores, the streets south of the Capitol were blocked off for the Illinois U.S. senator on Friday evening. He'd already made stops that day in Corpus Christi and Edinburg before returning to Austin and an estimated crowd of 30,000. In an hourlong speech, Obama mixed policy statements with a dose of humor. (After noting, to a chorus of cheers, that President George W. Bush will not be on the ballot in November, Obama added that "he's coming back to Texas," to a chorus of playful boos.) He also took time to tell the crowd that he had not one but two new campaign headquarters – one in East Austin and one in Dobie Mall – opening over the next three days. Nick Kimball, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Texas, said, "It's been incredible to see across the state and especially in Austin how people have been inspired by Senator Obama."

It was also by the shores of Lady Bird Lake that Paul held one of his early high-profile campaign events. At his Austin Tea Party last December, an estimated 3,000 supporters watched as his campaign staff threw crates marked "IRS" into the water. But on the steps of UT's Main Mall on Saturday afternoon, Paul's campaign was met with a mix of fervent support and dismissive booing. Escorted by bikers instead of police outriders, Paul clanged a replica of the Liberty Bell his staff was towing around between two tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments. His continued support for ending the war in Iraq and the War on Drugs received universal support from this mostly student audience. But his opposition to Social Security and his suggestion that 9/11 would have never happened if America had "a better understanding of the Second Amendment" caused immediate and obvious division in the crowd. That's not the only division he faces this year: The erstwhile Libertarian faces a primary challenge in his own congressional district, from Friendswood council member and conservative Christian Chris Peden.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Richard Whittaker
Planned Parenthood CEO to Headline SXSW 2022 Conference
Planned Parenthood CEO to Headline SXSW 2022 Conference
Lucasfilm, Patreon, WWE all sending speakers for 2022

Oct. 19, 2021

Q&A: Aharon Keshales Enters Texas Darkness in <i>South of Heaven</i>
Q&A: Aharon Keshales Enters Texas Darkness in South of Heaven
Noir, cowboys ... and Ted Lasso?

Oct. 19, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle