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Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul called Friday night for getting rid of the Federal Reserve System and the federal income tax, and making major cuts in federal spending.

Speaking to the Montana Republican Party convention, Paul, who ended his presidential race earlier this month, was highly critical of U.S. federal monetary and fiscal policy.

"There is a day coming when we will wake up and realize the Federal Reserve System is not our friend, and we would be better off without it," Paul said, drawing cheers from some of the 470 people at the dinner.

He won loud applause from some in the audience when he called for repealing the federal income tax.

"What we have to do is get our house in order," Paul said. "We have to live within our means and start cutting back."

He criticized the $600-per-person stimulus package approved by the Democratic-led Congress and signed into law by Republican President Bush.

"All of that money was probably eaten up in 30 days by the rising price of energy," Paul said.

On another topic, Paul advocated more nuclear power plants in the United States, saying the United States could import energy if it built one nuclear plant in every state. He also called for more domestic oil and gas drilling.

Paul also was highly critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

In Montana, Paul finished second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Republican Party's binding Feb. 5 caucus with 25 percent of the vote. In Missoula County's caucus, he was first.

In the nonbinding Montana presidential primary on June 3, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain defeated Paul by 76 percent to 21 percent, with the remaining votes going to no preference.

Paul said he was heartened by the support he received from the tens of thousands to millions of young people across the nation who embraced his message of individual responsibility and freedom.

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"The young people that have joined our campaign are rallying to the cry of self-reliance and getting their independence back," Paul said, warning that "the next generation is inheriting a mess from this generation."

Paul said he is much more encouraged about the state of the nation than he was when he launched his campaign 16 months ago.

In an earlier speech, Republican attorney general candidate Tim Fox of Helena said, if elected, he would make it a priority to have the state Justice Department post photographs of registered sex offenders on an online sex predator registry, as required by law. He criticized Democratic Attorney General McGrath for not making this a priority.

Fox said he did a study last fall that found that in some counties, more than 20 percent n and in some others, up to 75 percent n of sex offenders in the registry didn't have photos posted.

"I can tell you I'm going to make that a priority," Fox said. "Montana has more registered sex offenders per capita than all but one other state."

These photos can help Montanans identify whether there are registered sex offenders living in the neighborhoods near their children and grandchildren.

Fox said he would target "cyber-predators" through increased law enforcement, seek tougher penalties for offenders and provide educational outreach to parents and schools to prevent these crimes from happening.

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