As the rest of the GOP field experiences the highs and lows of the campaign trail, one candidate’s support remains constant. Ron Paul’s supporters are the most fervent, the most loyal, and there are plenty of them in Iowa.
A larger than expected crowd of 160 packed Gates Hall in Nevada to hear Paul speak at a Story County GOP chili supper Tuesday evening. “It’s always a good thing when you have to panic right before a fundraiser when you don’t know if you have enough tables and chairs,” said Story County GOP chairman Cory Adams, who has endorsed Paul.
The Texas congressman’s supporters comprised the majority of the crowd. One of the youngest, Shayla Peters, 11, spoke to the crowd before Paul was introduced. She read a recent school report written about a person she admired. Peters chose Ron Paul as her subject.
“He’s always clear in his decisions and he’s always for the Constitution,” the sixth grader told TheIowaRepublican. “He always gives straight answers and that’s what I like.”
Shayla Peters is hardly alone in her appreciation of Ron Paul’s libertarian views. His message is resonating with a significant contingent of Iowa Caucus goers. Drawing sizable crowds at every tour stop, the Texas congressman has a motivated and active base.
Paul’s vote total at the Ames Straw Poll in August was the third highest in the event’s history. Unlike Straw Poll winner Michele Bachmann, Paul’s support is not slipping. Right now, Ron Paul probably has a greater amount of committed caucus supporters than any other candidate. If the vote were held today, there is a chance Ron Paul would win Iowa.
“I think so,” Cory Adams said. “His supporters are extremely hardcore. They will make it out in all corners of the state no matter the circumstances. That could tip the balance in his favor.”
Paul’s speech to the Story County GOP was his typical mix of dire warnings about U.S. monetary, spending and foreign policies. “No real jobs have been created in this country since the year 2000 and we haven’t changed our policies one bit,” Paul said. “We still do the same things over and over again and then they wonder why the jobs aren’t here. We chase the jobs overseas. Business people don’t go overseas because they don’t like America. They go overseas to survive.”
There is no doubt that Ron Paul’s views differ greatly from most of the Republican field. Thanks to the country’s economic woes, those views are shared by a greater number of Iowans now than it did four years ago, when Paul took fifth place with almost 12,000 votes. His vote total is very likely to increase in the 2012 Iowa Caucus.
“He said a lot of great things,” said Forrest Irvine, a member of the ISU College Republicans. “He has ideas to take things back to where our country used to be and that message is resonating.” Irvine has not decided if he will back Paul, Gary Johnson or Rick Perry.
It is Ron Paul’s foreign policy that still alienates many Republican voters. However, you would not know it judging from the crowd in Nevada, as his speech was interrupted for applause more than a dozen times.
“I think we’re more vulnerable because of our foreign policy,” Paul told the crowd. “I want to change our foreign policy. I do not want to be the policemen of the world.” He later added that the U.S. is involved in six foreign wars “and they want to start two more”.
Longtime Iowa political activists say this is the strangest and most unpredictable caucus cycle they have ever witnessed. There is no clear frontrunner. There is however, only one candidate who is all but guaranteed a sizable turnout on caucus night. His name is Ron Paul.
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