Paul, an obstetrician from Texas, was impressed with the turnout.
"Wow. If they only knew you existed over in Washington, they'd change things over there," he said as he greeted the cheering crowd.
Paul spoke fervently of his support of smaller government, including the abolition of agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, and of his support for strictly following the Constitution. He also spoke out against the war in Iraq and any pre-emptive military action.
"Because of our careless attitude about foreign policy and how we go to war, we have allowed our government to build an American world empire," he said. "We are not an empire. We're a republic."
"I tell people not to listen to what a candidate says before an election or what he does," he said. "I tell them to look at what he has consistently done for the past 20 years."
That voting record is what drives his grass-roots supporters, said Mark Hudson of Syracuse.
"He is the only candidate who attracts everyone from libertarians to constitutional conservatives to true conservatives," Hudson said...
update: ron paul places 2nd at the 'values voter' debate
from paul4prez: At tonight's Values Voter debate, Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee won the post-debate straw poll with 63% of the vote. Ron Paul's debate skills earned him a second place finish at 13%. His strong showing may have surprised some observers, given his steadfast opposition to the Iraq war, and his refusal to use the power of the federal government to force conservative values on everyone...
Although religious conservatives may like Huckabee's doctrinaire agreement on social issues, his record in Arkansas should dampen their enthusiasm: as governor, he increased spending by 65 percent in eight years, and his mixed positions on illegal immigration may account for his slow start in the fundraising race.
Social conservatives should also consider carefully the true limited-government platform of Ron Paul. Even if social conservatives gain enough power at the federal level to force their values on everyone, the gains will be fleeting and subject to reversal at the next election. A federal government constrained to its Constitutional limits, as Ron Paul supports, is the only government that can be trusted to respect all of our freedoms. As Barry Goldwater once said:
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have."
The Values Voter presidential debate invited all of the Republican presidential candidates to speak directly to an organization representing the religious conservatives who formed a large and influential part of the Republican Party's electoral success from 1980 to 2004. So-called front-runners Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and John McCain showed their disdain for social conservative voters by ducking the debate.
Ron Paul's closing statement in the Values Voters debate: