Ron Paul slams Patriot Act, backers drown out jeers at conference

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) elicited the loudest reaction of any speaker so far at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, with a throng of raucous supporters drowning out audible boos emanating from the CPAC crowd.

Paul didn't disappoint, offering a fiery speech that took on the Patriot Act and military spending and lamented bipartisanship in Washington.

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The Texas Republican, who said earlier in the week that he's "seriously considering" another run for the White House next year, cheered the failure of a House vote that would have extended several provisions of the Patriot Act, calling the measure "the destruction of the 4th Amendment."

"We want to protect our civil liberties as well as our economic liberties," said Paul.

Referencing Egypt, he rejected the notion of foreign aid, arguing that protesters in Cairo are upset with the U.S. for spending some $70 billion to prop up "that puppet dictator for all these years."

"We need to do a lot less, a lot sooner," Paul said of foreign affairs. "Not only in Egypt, but around the world."

"I'm sure half of the people in this room wouldn't cut one penny from military spending," said Paul, arguing that "military spending is not defense."

Paul also lamented bipartisanship in Washington, telling the crowd, "We've had way too much bipartisanship for about 60 years ... It's the bipartisanship of the welfare system, the warfare system, the monetary system."

Meanwhile, Paul backers are everywhere at CPAC, organizing straw-poll support, blanketing attendees with pro-Paul literature and making plenty of noise in the main ballroom.

Paul was the surprise winner of last year's straw poll, and most attendees at this year's event fully expect a repeat performance when the results are announced Saturday.