Nearly 800 people attended the Campaign for Liberty’s opening festivities on Friday night in Des Moines. Campaign for Liberty president John Tate, WHO Radio personality Jan Mickelson, and Congressman Ron Paul were the featured speakers.
Congressman Paul’s plane was delayed, so Tom Woods, a New York Times bestselling author of nine books, was also inserted into the line-up on Friday night. Woods, who was scheduled to address the conference on Saturday, spoke to crowd until Congressman Paul showed up.
The event was emceed by David Fischer of Des Moines and also featured Drew Ivers, the state director of the Campaign for Liberty in Iowa. A.J. Spiker, the Story County Republican chairman, introduced Congressman Paul. Fischer, Ivers, and Spiker were all recently elected to the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee.
Organizers claim that the Campaign for Liberty now has over 300,000 members across the nation. At the conference on Friday night, Campaign for Liberty made a big deal out of the election of four Campaign for Liberty members to the Republican State Central Committee.
Drew Ivers also noted that 200 Campaign for Liberty members were elected as delegates to the Republican state convention. Two hundred delegates would account for almost ten percent of the Republican state delegates, an impressive feat for a new organization. This is also an indication of how much better organized a second Ron Paul presidential campaign in Iowa would be.
In previous years, it has been the Iowa Christian Alliance who had organized for the caucus to convention process in Iowa. While there is no reason for any group of Republicans to feel threatened by people like Ivers and Fischer, who both have been involved in Republican politics for years, that might not be the case in 2012.
The only thing up for grabs at the 2010 convention is the party platform. However, in two years, people will want to be delegates to the national convention and there will also be an election for both of Iowa seats on the National Committee. If the Campaign for Liberty continues to organize at the grassroots level, they could very easily control who gets to be a delegate to the national convention in 2012, which would pit them against the Iowa Christian Alliance.
A number of Republican candidates were in attendance. Third District congressional candidate Brad Zaun worked the crowd in the lobby before the event. One of his primary opponents, Scott Batcher, was also in attendance. First District Congressional Candidate Will Johnson was also present and was recognized from the podium as a Campaign for Liberty candidate. Bob Vander Plaats was one of the sponsors of the event, and Dave Funk had an impressive booth in the lobby.
The event was full of the energy that we have come to expect from a Ron Paul gathering. What’s interesting about these events is that the excitement comes from the crowd, not necessarily from the person behind the podium. In his speech, Congressman Paul warned that, for the Campaign for Liberty movement to be successful, candidates can’t go out there and say that the preschool programs should be eliminated. Instead, Paul said that they should advocate cutting spending overseas. Paul said, “Not only would it save billions of dollars, but if we changed our foreign policy, we will be safe.”
Paul also said that he opposed rounding up the 12 million people who are in our country illegally. Paul said, “Heck, some of them have lived here for over twenty years, and can’t even speak Spanish.”
The other key issue for Paul and the Campaign for Liberty is the promotion of an audit of the Federal Reserve. Last week, Senator David Vitter (R) of Louisiana, filed an amendment to the financial reform package. The amendment was essentially identical to House Resolution 1207, Congressman Paul’s bill in the House calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Only 37 senators supported the amendment, one being Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Senator Harkin voted against it.
Obviously, some members of Campaign for Liberty were disappointed that it didn’t pass, but John Tate, Campaign for Liberty’s president, reminded the people in Des Moines on Friday night, “A few years ago nobody knew what they fed was, and now 78% of the people want it audited.”
The vote on the Vitter amendment has spilled over into the hotly contested U.S. Senate primary in Kentucky, and was on Tate’s mind Friday night. Rand Paul, one of Congressman Paul’s children, is seeking the Republican nomination in Kentucky against Trey Grayson, the current Secretary of State. The Republican leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, who is from Kentucky, has publically endorsed Grayson and voted against the Vitter amendment.
The interesting Iowa angle on this story is that the Iowa based American Future Fund (AFF), is very active in the Kentucky primary. Friday night, Tate told the crowd that AFF has been running “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ads across the state against Rand Paul.” TheIowaRepublican.com was told that AFF will spend $750,000 in the Kentucky race, $300,000 of it on TV airing ads like this one.
AFF doesn’t believe that Rand Paul is a conservative. AFF points to his refusal to say how he would vote on a federal partial birth abortion ban. They also note that he supports the use of the morning after pill. AFF also believes he is weak on national security issues, noting that Rand Paul opposes the use of coal to create domestic energy, making us more dependent on foreign energy sources. Rand Paul also has stated that he doesn’t think that a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to America’s national security. AFF has also launched the website RandSaidIt.com.
Rand Paul isn’t the only Republican that is in AFF’s crosshairs. They are also targeting Tom Campbell, who is running for the U.S. Senate in California.
We’ll know more about the strength of the Campaign for Liberty Tuesday night when the election results for Rand Paul start coming in. Rand Paul is expected to win the nomination, but if his supporters can come through with a sizable victory despite some serious attacks against his conservative credentials, the Campaign for Liberty will have proven it is a force to be reckoned with.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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