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On an overcast Wednesday afternoon, hours before he engaged in the third debate of this primary cycle, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul spoke with students about his economic policy in the courtyard of the C4C at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The brief roundtable was organized by Young Americans for Liberty, a fiscally conservative, socially libertarian college group that seeks to “preserve the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Cole Bloom, a CU student and YAL member, said.
The group doesn’t endorse presidential candidates, but Paul’s views line up with many of their beliefs. Paul Newman, YAL’s recruitment director, wore a t-shirt that read “Political party” and depicted the Founding Fathers playing beer pong. He graduated from CU in June with degrees in political science and German. He said that Rand Paul is like a libertarian Bernie Sanders and that Paul appeals to young conservatives in a way that other Republican candidates don’t.
“[Paul’s] economic policies, they’re not the same,” Newman said. “A lot of people say the same thing, want the status quo. You hear a lot of rhetoric that’s the same as in 2008 and 2012. He stands by his beliefs. ”
Paul’s sincerity in his convictions struck a nerve with the students whom he spoke to, and they think that he can back his beliefs with actions better than the other Republican candidates.
“There’s actual content behind his economic plan,” Bloom said. “Experts have looked at his plan and he does what he says he will. I love the simplicity of his tax plan. Our current economic system reeks of special interests.”
Paul spoke with the students for about half an hour, then addressed the media before he did a photo op. As the students waited in line for a picture, someone started a “Stand with Rand!” chant. It was soft at first, then all 20-something students joined in.
Paige Slaught, another CU student and YAL member, said that Paul wasn’t her top choice, but that talking to him humanized him in a way that could potentially change her mind.
“Being up close, shaking his hand, you realize that he’s a person, too,” Slaught said.