Breann Fischer drove all night from northwestern North Dakota to listen to Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul during his brief stop Saturday night in Fargo.
Thanks to a sound system snafu, the 26-year-old farmer and dozens of other young people had a chance to get their pictures taken with the 76-year-old Paul, who last came to North Dakota in 2008 to court college students before the state's presidential primary.
"I agree with him 100 percent," an excited Fischer, of Grenora, said after posing with the Texas congressman before the electronics were fixed in the Fargo Civic Center.
Paul's speech in Fargo was a fundraiser for the North Dakota Policy Council, which bills itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit free market think tank. Tickets ranged from $10,000 for a VIP table sponsorship, to $15 for college students.
Despite a long day that included an earlier campaign stop in Minnesota, Paul didn't disappoint the faithful who came to hear him rail against the Federal Reserve and government spending. And he was quick to acknowledge the 20-somethings in the crowd.
"Now we have a large number of young people in our universities who know what's going on," Paul said. "They don't like what they see."
North Dakota State University students Stefan Bigboy, 19, and Colby Kilzer, 18, said they don't follow politics but were curious to hear Paul. They said they liked Paul's persuasive speaking style.
"I really don't know a whole lot about him, but I like his `we the people' attitude," said Bigboy, who said he considers himself a socialist.
"I'm here to learn," Kilzer said. "Plus, I got in for free."
Students weren't the only ones from the university who attended the speech. Jeremy Jackson, an economics professor at the Fargo college, described himself as a "Repubiltarian" and said he voted for Paul in the last presidential primary, in which Paul finished third behind Mitt Romney and John McCain.
"I like liberty," Jackson said when asked why he supported Paul. "I like the government to stay out of my business."
The event drew a handful of North Dakota Republican hopefuls for the U.S. House, including Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, who said he came to the event to meet voters.
"Ron Paul has a very, very extensive following in North Dakota," Kalk said. "I'm here to get my message out and maybe learn something."
Dustin Gawrylow, director of the North Dakota Taxpayers Association, said he's a "closet Ron Paul guy" who likes the candidate's stance on everything but foreign policy.
"North Dakotans generally are in the libertarian, leave me alone, guns and freedom type of entity," Gawrylow said. "North Dakotans want to be left alone and feel that they can run their system better than everybody else."