Quite honestly, if any other Republican presidential candidate were to have stopped by the UC Davis quad to give a campaign speech last week, there's little doubt in my mind that it would have been overshadowed by some form of protest.
We're talking about the same quad where non-violent students were pepper sprayed by campus police as the Occupy movement took hold last November, turning the location into a symbol and a gathering point.
To put it bluntly, the Occupy movement and the Republican Party don't exactly line up in agreement on many issues. As the editor of a local news site in Davis, I've sat in on enough General Assemblies to know that, although every protester has his/her own opinions, hardly anybody within the Occupy movement would check a box next to Romney's or Santorum's names.
I took a bunch of photos at the rally. Check out the diversity of the crowd here.
Not many would likely check Ron Paul's box either, but the sentiment toward Paul is much different. He's not cast as a champion of the 1 percent -- at least to the degree that the other GOP candidates are.
Paul's stage was just a couple hundred feet from where Lt. Pike did his now-famous pepper spray routine, and although there were protesters among the crowd at UC Davis, there was no attempt to disrupt the event or logjam Paul's speech at all. Just a collection of people holding signs and exercising their freedom of speech.
With that said, his economic views are the total opposite of anything resembling socialism or community. He's all about individual liberties. But he's also against wars, bailouts, and the Fed. He's different, which is why his following -- as demonstrated on the quad -- is so dedicated. He has no chance of winning, and yet the masses show up and get excited.
The crowd at the event was very diverse, both in terms of age and ethnicity. The same cannot be said for Romney and Santorum events, for the most part. That's just the truth.
You could even smell weed in certain spots. In others, people were playing hacky sack.
It's no secret that Paul -- a staunch Libertarian -- does not march in lockstep with the mainstream Republican candidates, as this article explains.
Still, as an editor for a news site in Davis and an observer of all things Occupy, it was interesting to watch a Republican erect a stage on that quad and then give a speech with little-to-no interruption or protest.
I'm sure the school's Chancellor was jealous. She got censured on the same day.