By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press
ELKO, Nev. (AP) — Republican Rep. Ron Paul railed against the federal government during campaign stops in Nevada on Thursday, saying states are in the best position to resolve conflicts over the management of wild horses and roads on public lands.
Paul addressed about 600 people in Reno and 400 people in Elko ahead of Saturday's presidential caucus in Nevada.
He told a raucous crowd at a Reno hotel-casino night that he's tired of people saying he's an idealist who must learn to compromise.
"I think compromise is sort of like selling out," he said to loud cheers from supporters who waved placards reading, "End the Fed," ''End All Wars" and "Ron Paul Revolution."
"It looks like the revolution is alive and well," Paul said. "This is a great state. There's a lot of people here who really like freedom."
During a stop earlier in the day in Elko, Paul said that while he's unsure of the solution to the wild horse problem in Nevada and other Western states, he thinks federal land managers should be the last resort to resolve the issue. He said he would like to see Nevada and other states come up with solutions.
"The last thing I think is some bureaucrat in Washington should be solving this problem," Paul said. "I can guarantee they'll make a wrong decision and not please anyone. The more privatized and localized, the better solution it would be."
In recent years, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has removed thousands of "excess" wild horses from public lands in the West it says are harming rangelands and native wildlife. Horse advocates oppose the move, saying the agency is removing the animals to appease ranchers and make room for more cows.
Paul also said the U.S. Forest Service should not be imposing travel management plans on public land in Nevada and elsewhere across the West. The effort, which began under George W. Bush's presidential administration, should be up to the states, he said.
"I don't want the federal government dictating to Nevada, period," Paul said. "I want to see the land owned and controlled by the states."
Paul said he offers a choice to voters because he doesn't support the status quo.
"If the status quo is extended by the other candidates, I have to challenge them. And they all represent a variation of the status quo," he said.
Paul shrugged off Donald Trump's endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, saying he doesn't think it will help Romney at all.
"I don't know why anybody talks about him (Trump)," Paul said. "I don't think he has that much credibility. I don't understand why we pay attention to him.'
Four years ago, Paul finished second to Romney in Nevada's GOP caucuses.
Associated Press writer Martin Griffith in Reno contributed to this report.
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