Rep. Ron Paul rallies supporters in Tampa

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) addressed boisterous supporters Sunday, saying their efforts would help to usher in a new era of American politics.

"The end of an era provides an opportunity," he said.

In wide-ranging and lengthy remarks delivered to supporters in Tampa one day before the Republican convention is slated to begin, Paul further touted his unique brand of political thinking, which has gained him a passionate base of support following several dark horse presidential runs.

ADVERTISEMENT
The overarching theme of Paul's remarks was one of wanting to minimize the government's influence on people's everyday lives. The lawmaker, who plans to retire at the end of 2012, used a number of specific points to highlight his worldview, including legalized drugs, a reduced military presence abroad, and even allowing for the consumption of raw milk.

"The return of liberty can solve so many of our problems," he said.

Paul also struck a sometimes dire tone about potential threats to his movement, arguing that big business interests and government bureaucracies would seek to stifle it.

"It has to proceed quickly, before they take away our ability to communicate," he said, adding later, "I do think we have to worry about fascism."

The oftentimes verbose lawmaker spoke to the crowd for over an hour on a range of subjects, but repeatedly hit on one of his favorite targets: the Federal Reserve. Paul has long been critical of the institution, accusing it of devaluing the dollar and encouraging economic bubbles, and has pressed to allow Americans to use gold and silver as competing currencies to the dollar.

"We're looking at the last vestiges of a bad program started in 1913. We will eventually get rid of the Federal Reserve!" Paul yelled to the raucous crowd, which responded with chants of "End the Fed! End the Fed!"

Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), introduced his father to the crowd. But before doing so, he tried to breathe new life into legislation pending before the Senate that would bring about one of the elder Paul's longest efforts: a complete accounting of the operations of the Fed.

A House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul, easily passed with the support of all but one Republican and roughly half of the chamber's Democrats.

However, a Senate version of the measure, which would require the Fed to be subject to government audits of all its operations, including its monetary policy deliberations, is not expected to gain immediate traction. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no plans to bring up the measure. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has come out strongly against the bill, saying congressional second-guessing of monetary moves would be a "nightmare scenario" for the central bank, which is fiercely protective of its political independence.

Sen. Paul said reports of the bill being dead in the Senate are "not true," and urged supporters to directly pressure Reid to bring it up for a vote when Congress reconvenes in September.