- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul stopped in Boise as part of his Western tour to rally support and attract voters in a red-dominated state that is likely to have its pick of candidates during the GOP primary election.

Paul spoke to nearly 300 people at Boise State University on Thursday. He is also scheduled for an afternoon rally in Nampa that’s followed by a GOP barbeque in Idaho Falls.

“I want to make government smaller,” Paul said to a cheering crowd. “Do you want your government to be smaller?”

The Kentucky senator’s swing through the West has already included rallies in Alaska and Washington, with other stops planned in Utah and Wyoming.

Paul spent most of his speech criticizing dysfunction inside Congress while promising to scrap the federal tax code and creating a simpler system. He drew applause while championing local management of public lands to help prevent large wildfires, which are currently ravaging many of the states he’s visited during his Western tour.

“There are a lot of things in Idaho that Washington gets wrong,” Paul said. “They apparently don’t know how to put out fires or manage your forests.”

The message hit home for many Idahoans who have demanded that the federal government release its control over public land in many Western states.

Paul later told reporters that he believed local officials should have a bigger input in managing public lands, pointing to the success of private land ownership of experiencing relatively few large wildfires.

Paul was joined by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, who serves as the candidate’s Western states chairman.

“One of the important things to note is that Rand is the first candidate to cover the entire state,” Labrador said. “Idaho is fertile ground for the Rand Paul camp. I think the people of Idaho are conservative and just as libertarian as he considers himself.”

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