Race for Iowa: Ron Paul fires up supporters


December 30th, 2011

Editorial note: In the final part of our series profiling the GOP candidates before the Iowa caucuses, we’ll take a look at one candidate currently in a dead heat for the lead. Ron Paul made a stop in Council Bluffs Thursday night, and addressed a packed house.

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Omaha, NE – Ron Paul’s message is pretty distinct from any other candidate in the GOP race.

Ron Paul stood before a standing-room-only crowd at the Mid America Center Thursday night. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“The role of government should be designed to protect our liberties, and we should assume the responsibilities,” he said to applause.

The Texas Congressman stood before a crowd of hundreds of people at the Mid America Center Thursday night. And as his impassioned audience whistled and applauded, he called for a drastically reduced government and a return to pre-World War One governance.

“Most of the people in this country understand we have natural rights, we have God-given rights, our life and our liberty,” he said. “But we’ve failed to follow through and say if we have a right to our life and our liberty, why don’t we have the right to keep the fruits of our labor? That’s what we need.”

Hundreds squeezed in to hear Ron Paul speak in Council Bluffs. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

Ron Paul’s message has been consistent throughout his campaign. And to get the people back those personal liberties, he’s calling for big changes: abolishing the Federal Reserve and the income tax, and returning the monetary system to the gold standard. He says government has grown to intrude further and further into people’s lives. And with each step, spending has grown too. In the first year of a Paul administration, he would work to abolish government agencies like the Department of Education and cut $1 trillion from the budget.

“The budget they use in Washington is nothing more than total deception,” he said. “For months, if not years, they’ve talked about cutting spending… I’d venture to bet that I’m the only one that’s talking about real cuts.”

Ron Paul's message has been consistent throughout his campaign, and he calls for radical changes in government. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

A Paul administration would also make drastic changes to U.S. foreign policy, ending America’s role, as he calls it, as the “policemen of the world.” His philosophy is simple and substantive. And that has Council Bluffs resident Bob Hansen on his side.

“For me, Ron Paul is just the only honest guy,” Hansen said. “He’s the one that’s saying we’re broke, we have no money. He’s the one that’s saying we spend money we don’t have. We’re supporting things we don’t need to support. And that’s why I like him.”

Paul’s message has also attracted a lot of young people, including Joe Hunter, 24, of Council Bluffs. He says he supports him particularly for his stand against the war in Iraq. And he says those kinds of issues are appealing to people – like himself – who don’t see themselves as either Republicans or Democrats.

Ron Paul supporters say his straightforward approach has won them over. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“A lot of the things that Ron Paul says is just an American thing, or just a human element to it,” Hunter said. “And originally, I don’t want to sound like I’m going to quote the forefathers or whatever, but George Washington and a lot of those early guys, they didn’t want a two party system. They didn’t want to have these people going back and forth on where the stand.”

“It’s okay to associate one way or the other,” he said. “But really, when you talk about some of these issues, it’s just a really human element.”

Ron Paul has led in several recent polls in Iowa. But he’s dipped slightly in the latest numbers, after weathering some criticism this week. He’s had to answer for some incendiary racist remarks published in newsletters with his name on them in the 1980s and 1990s.

Paul signed autographs after his speech, amid a throng of supporters and media. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

The newsletters have surfaced before, but they’ve been publicized further because of his prominence in the race. Paul’s been prickly about answering questions over the letters. But he told an Iowa radio station Thursday the remarks were “terrible” and that he never wrote them.

Despite the controversy, Real Clear Politics, which creates an average of a variety of polls, currently has Paul in a dead heat with Mitt Romney at 21.3 percent in Iowa. (As of Friday morning, the latest numbers show Romney inching ahead, with 21.6 percent over Ron Paul’s 21.2)

The caucuses are just a few days away. They’ll kick off the rest of the months-long GOP nomination contest January 3rd.


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