With Paul campaign, love is free(dom)

MPR Photo/Conrad Wilson

On Monday, before a cheering crowd of about 600 in downtown St. Cloud, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas railed against big government, the country's foreign and monetary policies, and the importance of personal liberties. Needless to say it was an unlikely place to find love.

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But sure enough, Rachel Thielman and Brent Johnson, were there on a date, celebrating.

"I'm actually just here because my boyfriend here," Thielman said, turning to her left. "It was our two-year anniversary yesterday and I knew that this would, like, completely make his life if I came along. So that's why I'm here."

Johnson's a pretty big Ron Paul fan. He likes the Republican presidential candidate's vision for the country.

"He kinda cares about the American dream," Johnson said. "I actually feel like he's the only candidate that really does."

Both Johnson and Thielman study mass communication at St. Cloud State. While Paul didn't really talk about love, the happy couple seemed to underscore the importance youth is playing in the Paul campaign.

Paul said young people are attracted to the idea of liberty and that the concept of freedom is a young idea.

"I think that is one of the reasons why young people like this idea because their minds are not muddied up with the conventional wisdom of the politicians, and the TV and the media and all the things they have learned and they're more open," Paul said. "Too often as we get older were told to conform. But I think it's a natural tendency to love liberty, whether you're two years old, or whether you're 60 years old."

So Paul said the word: Love. In his case, he was invoking love of the republic.

The happy couple in the stands may feel likewise about their country. But Johnson said having his girlfriend at the rallymade his anniversary.

"It did! It did!" Johnson said earnestly. "Big time!"

"Gosh," Thielman replied. "How embarrassing."