For anyone unsure that Ron Paul will place very high in the Iowa Caucus, Wednesday’s event in Bettendorf should erase all doubts. The event was a campaign tour de force in terms of crowd attendance, as well as organization.
One hour before the scheduled start time, more than 100 attendees were already waiting inside the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center. Shortly after the doors opened, the room filled to capacity. However, Ron Paul’s campaign was more than prepared for the enormous crowd.
On each of the 260 seats were three items: a 30 page Ron Paul family cookbook, an invitation to a Veterans for Ron Paul rally in Des Moines next week, and a slickly produced palm card that explains Paul’s stances on the front, with a place to sign up as a volunteer or donate money on the back. It is this kind of forethought that is lacking from most of the presidential campaigns.
The Paul staff put on a textbook example of how an event should be run. Volunteers and staff dispersed through the room with sign-up sheets attached to clipboards. They made a significant effort to collect contact information from every single person in the room.
No presidential campaign in Iowa is as efficient as Ron Paul’s in terms of collecting data and distributing information about their candidate. Others set up sign tables with campaign materials and haphazardly pass around sign-up sheets. Ron Paul’s staff is doing the little things necessary to win. They are mobilizing the people who attend their events.
The tremendous display in efficiency and foresight continued as the crowd swelled. It quickly became apparent that the room was too small to fit the rapidly increasing crowd. No worries. The divider wall in the room was removed, revealing another 150 chairs. Each was pre-stocked with campaign materials. Those seats filled up as well. Dozens more were brought in. That wasn’t enough either. Altogether, a crowd of more than 500 people turned out for this event. It was by far the largest audience for any presidential candidate in the Quad Cities this year.
“He does have a good ground game going and I think it’s reflective of the amount of people that were here,” said Scott County GOP Chair Judy Davidson. “We do tend to draw a lot of people at our events but this is the best attended.”
The Bettendorf event was not an anomaly. Paul’s other three stops in eastern Iowa on Wednesday each drew crowds of over 200. No other candidate is attracting those kinds of numbers in Iowa this year.
Paul’s campaign made sure to use the large and lively Quad Cities crowd to its advantage. As attendees were still filing in, Megan Walker, Ron Paul’s voter outreach director for Iowa, announced that another sign-up sheet was going to be passed through the crowd and requested that each person sign this one as well. The second sheet was to connect to Paul’s various coalitions, such as veterans, homeschoolers and farmers.
Promptly as 7:00, state chairman Drew Ivers addressed the audience. That is another difference between Ron Paul and some of the other candidates. His events start on time.
Ivers told the crowd that momentum is building and they were going to make history on January 3. Ron Paul has “the support of the people, the support of the party, the support of the party activists. We even have pastors that are coming into this camp and I know that’s been an issue,” Ivers said.
Then he introduced Ron Paul, to a loud and sustained standing ovation. “It looks like the revolution has arrived in Iowa,” he said to raucous applause. “It looks like freedom is popular here as well.“
He delivered a 47-minute speech, replete with exactly what you would expect from the libertarian minded congressman. The capacity crowd loved it. This was not just a group of college kids. That might have been the core of Ron Paul’s base four years ago, but his support has expanded to all age groups.
Paul’s surge to the top of the polls in Iowa has been a long time in the making. The country’s economic struggles and prolonged wars have made Ron Paul’s message much more appealing than it was four years ago.
“There’s a lot of people like you that are waking up,” Paul said. “There’s a dramatic change from four years ago to now. The change was small, small, small…Now, there’s a lot of people noticing…There’s a desperate need for this right now.”
Bob Hughes of Davenport supported Paul four years ago. He has seen the Texan congressman’s support gradually increase, and Paul’s fiercely loyal organization is exceptionally well prepared for this moment.
“This is the third time I’ve been to one of Ron Paul’s meeting here in Davenport and each one has progressively multiplied in terms of numbers,” Hughes said. “I’ve seen his supporters and his organization that have been working in the last month, the number of phone calls I’ve received, the number of emails that I get every day. I get eight emails every day from different Ron Paul groups.”
Another longtime Paul supporter is a little surprised his candidate is drawing massive crowds and polling near the top of the GOP candidates in Iowa. “Yes, I am,” said Dennis Sievers of Davenport. “It didn’t happen in 2008. I think he has a shot if the media gives him a fair deal and pays attention to him and treats him like a legitimate candidate.”
Whether or not the media treats him as a serious candidate remains to be seen, but there is no doubt the other presidential campaigns should. Ron Paul has a very real chance to win the Iowa Caucus. Not only is his message resonating with a growing group of voters, Paul’s campaign is the most efficient and professional in the state. They are handling all of the little details necessary to deliver a victory on caucus night.
As other candidates rose in the polls, they did not have the campaign structure in place to maintain the momentum. That is not a problem for Ron Paul. He and his team are ready for success on caucus night.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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