Rand Paul Supporters Crash Ted Cruz’s Announcement Speech

Liberty Univ Stand With Rand

A group of Liberty University students managed to get in some rather epic trolling at Ted Cruz’s speech today:

LYNCHBURG, Va.—Sen.  Ted Cruz took the stage to declare his presidential candidacy at Liberty University Monday, surrounded by upwards of 10,000 cheering students. They weren’t all here by choice.

Attendance at convocation at Liberty is mandatory, and a group of students clad in “Stand With Rand” shirts sat center stage—directly in view of the cameras—to log their displeasure with having to be here.

“Of course, you want it to appear as if you have a large audience,” said Eli McGowan, who organized the not-so-subtle protest. “We felt like if we didn’t wear shirts showing our true political preference then the media might think we all supported Cruz.”

“They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation. Delgado wasn’t among those wearing Paul gear. She is undecided about who she’ll support in 2016, but she didn’t like being forced to be part of Cruz’s announcement.

After Cruz finished his speech, the red-clad cohort of Paul supporters wandered over toward the media section and lingered for press interviews. Lee Showalter is a 22-year-old Liberty student and a member of Young Americans for Liberty, a group that grew out of Ron Paul’s failed presidential campaigns. He said he showed up in Rand gear to “just show solidarity.”

“Ted Cruz is nice,” Showalter said. But he thinks Paul would make “a better president.”

Christopher Cromwell, a 20-year-old sophomore sporting a “Stand With Rand” shirt, said he was planning to volunteer for Paul’s campaign and didn’t want to “make it appear as though all the students supported Cruz.”

Several of the students managed to get seating that put them right in the camera shot for C-SPAN:

Cruz Stand With Rand

For those wondering, Cruz made his speech at Convocation, which is a weekly event at Liberty which all students are required to attend, but this appears the first time in awhile where the event had a purpose that was so explicitly biased in favor of an ongoing political candidate.

In any event, good way to fight the power kids.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James P says:

    Classless goons.

    The only thing that annoys me more than the Paul family are their classless Paulbot supporters.

    Cruz (and Walker) supporters would have enough class not to do that to Rand Paul even though they disagree with him for arguably being even weaker than Obama on the issues of Iran and national security.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    @James P: I would say it was more classless of Ted Cruz to hold his “Coming Out” event at a school function with mandatory attendance just so it would look good for cameras.

  3. ernieyeball says:

    @James P:..Classless goons.

    Free Speech 4 me. Not 4 thee.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation.

    Another demonstration of how conservatives consistently stand for freedom. (Really want to push it, it’s an ad for George Lakoff’s Whose Freedom which is an explanation of what freedom means to conservatives. Quite different from what Funk and Wagnalls think it means.)

    Boy howdy, mandatory attendance at Ted Cruz’s launch v Randbot protesters. The proverbial one can only root for injuries.

  5. ernieyeball says:

    “They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation.

    I was forced to attend convocation at Sleepytown U in 1968.
    Saw the Houston Ballet. Mark Lane Rush to Judgement. Someone associated with the Lenny Bruce film Dirtymouth. Might have been the Dir. Herbert S. Altman. And the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
    No fines as I recall. I did need the credit to graduate. I guess I screwed myself since I never finished college.
    (Saw Abbie Hoffman too. Steal This Book Not a convocation requirement but was on campus at the Arena where the other acts played.)

  6. ernieyeball says:

    @ernieyeball:.. Might have been the Dir. Herbert S. Altman.

    Or it might have been Bernie Travis. The actor who portrayed Bruce in the film.
    Pretty sure I saw Ralph Nader on campus speaking also.

  7. Argon says:

    “They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation.

    That’s why is called Liberty University…

  8. Pinky says:

    Doug, how did you come up with the word “crash” for the headline?

  9. eric florack says:

    the panic is palpable. Personally, I’m stocking up on popcorn.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    the panic is palpable. Personally, I’m stocking up on popcorn.

    Who, exactly, is panicking?

  11. de stijl says:


    Yeah, pretty inaccurate / borderline dishonest. Plus an opportunity missed – “Rand Paul Supporters Forced To Attend Ted Cruz’s Compulsory Announcement Speech” is way more clickbaity.

  12. James Pearce says:

    Just heard a couple snippets of Cruz’s speech on the drive home. When he got to the part about abolishing Obamacare and the IRS, there was laughter, not applause. That’s not a good sign……

    Lord, grant them the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can, and the wisdom to keep their applause lines from being an utter joke. Even to supporters.

  13. ernieyeball says:

    @de stijl:..pretty inaccurate / borderline dishonest.

    Pick some nits why don’t ya!
    I took it to mean that the Dandy Randy Paul supporters were being as disruptive as they could considering the venue.
    Haven’t seen any reports that Rafael was rattled.

  14. Gustopher says:

    It’s hard to crash an event that you are forced to attend. I was all ready to call the Rand Paulites classless, but I’m entirely on their side here.

    If you force people to attend a political event, you can’t complain when they are political.

  15. @gVOR08:

    Randbot protesters

    So does that mean anyone with an Obama bumper sticker can be dismissed as an “Obamabot”? Or is it just Republicans who aren’t allowed to visibly support candidates?

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Obama supporters generally no. The mindless Obama supporters, yes. If you want to get into an argument on what proportion of Obama supporters are essentially mindless v/ Paul’s libertarian supporters, have fun, I’ll pass.

  17. @gVOR08:

    All we know about these people is they like Rand Paul and resent being forced to be political props for candidates they don’t support. What evidence do you have that they’re “mindless”?

  18. Pinky says:

    Interestingly, Business Insider ran a story with nearly the exact same headline yesterday: “Rand Paul supporters crashed Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign announcement”. They didn’t include the fact that attendance was mandatory.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    I think if I were forced to act as TV prop for a political candidate I didn’t support I’d also be pretty bitchy.

    Too bad no one had any cream pies. That would have been an even better response.

  20. CSK says:

    I’m actually surprised that Paul has supporters at a place like Liberty University.

  21. al-Ameda says:

    Ted opens up by announcing at an evangelical university where students are required be present? I think this is good for the Democratic Party, and hopefully Ted yanks the GOP even further to the right.

  22. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    Back in the day, my school called it “chapel” rather than “convocation” and it was daily. The fines are new–our administrators threatened to put non attendance on our “permanent records.” How they knew who was there? We had assigned seats.
    @CSK: I know quite a few evangelicals who buy into Libertarianism. Most of the RonPaulbots I have known are evangelicals. The most surprising one is a progressive and socialist. Still don’t understand the appeal to him.

  23. Pinky says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: Paul seems to engender Rorschach-type reactions (and I don’t mean throwing people down elevator shafts). It’s a weird second-generation thing, with people responding to him on the basis of how they think about his dad.

  24. @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    The most surprising one is a progressive and socialist.

    Political evangelicalism actually was a predominantely left wing movement until the later half of the 20th century.

  25. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    But Libertarians are pro-gay marriage and believe that abortion is a decision best left to the woman. Isn’t this a major conflict of interest?

    @Pinky: I would agree that most college students who support Rand started out as supporters of his father.

    @Stormy Dragon:
    True about political evangelism.

  26. Pinky says:


    But Libertarians are pro-gay marriage and believe that abortion is a decision best left to the woman.

    Some are / do, some aren’t / don’t. Some don’t want government involved in marriage contracts at all. Some don’t care about anything but economic issues. Some see the state as only having a role in the protection of life, liberty, and property, which includes opposition to abortion. Some want government out of the health care business, or favor states’ rights on abortion, or worry about the church-state divide on both issues.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: “Libertarian: a Republican who wants to smoke pot.”

    So-called “pro-life” libertarians really confuse me. The same people who rant and rave about the right to sell their own kidneys but it’s perfectly fine to insist that a woman be forced to act as life-support system against her will with an entity hooked into her bloodstream. They don’t even insist that she at least be paid for it.

  28. Pinky says:

    @grumpy realist: Not to put too fine a point on it, but maybe they think there’s a difference between a kidney and a nascent human being? Anyway, while I’m sure there are people who fit both the stereotype pro-life and libertarian positions, someone who identifies as a pro-life libertarian may reconcile their beliefs in ways that surprise you. Personally, I’m always more interested in hearing from someone whose beliefs weren’t predictable according to ideological clusters.