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Paul supporters energized, promise organization
IOWA CITY — Because of his leadership position with the College Republicans, University of Iowa senior John Twillman won’t be endorsing a candidate. What he can say, as someone who has attended nearly every 2012 GOP event on campus, is U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has far exceeded the excitement generated by other candidates who have made appearances.
“As chairman of the College Republicans, I come out and support all of the candidates who are on or near campus. So, I came here tonight to both hear what Ron Paul had to say and support him,” Twillman said following Paul’s Friday night appearance at the Iowa Memorial Union when roughly 1,000 people set aside their homecoming festivities in order to hear what the Texas congressman had to say.
“There are many more young people at Ron Paul events all the time than there are at any other candidates’ events because he speaks to the young people.”
Although the same could be said about Paul’s support in 2008, which did not lead to caucus night victory, Twillmann added that he is seeing such energy translating into organization.
“I know they are going to be caucusing [in 2012]. I know this because we have several Paul supporters who are showing up at our meetings each week and many of them are interested not only in caucusing themselves, but in getting others to caucus, running polling places and getting literature out. So, I’m very confident that they will caucus on January 3,” he said.
“I think the Paul supporters — at least those I’ve seen — are much more passionate. They definitely have seen what almost four years of Barack Obama has done, and I think they will be more involved. I think they can see the real-life impacts of the policies that the President makes … So, I really think that college kids and young people in general will continue to support Ron Paul even more so than last time. I think they are already organized and I think they will get even more so and really turn out people for the caucus.”
Bill Boll, of Manchester, and Roger Kistler, of Olin, aren’t college students, but they agree that Paul supporters like themselves are serious about getting an Iowa boost.
“We love Ron Paul,” Boll said. “We support him and we are working in our own counties for him. We want to see that man as president.”
Of those that turned out to see and hear Paul, roughly 75 percent were under the age of 25. But Kistler said the make-up of the audience just added to the experience.
“When you are a part of a crowd like this, it just makes you feel 10 years younger,” he said and laughed.
Boll, who described himself as a small businessman, said Paul’s message of individual liberty and personal freedom is something that resonates not only with college students but with Republicans of all ages.
“I do believe that we have lost a lot of freedom,” he said. “The tax burden is tremendous, the regulatory burden is becoming worse and Ron Paul is the only one of the candidates that ever spoke to me — I don’t mean personally — but spoke to my heart. No [Internal Revenue Service]. No regulation. He wants me to be able to run my business without government interference.”
America has, Boll said, 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the prison population.
“Not that I advocate doing drugs, but the war on drugs is making this like a criminal country,” he said. “These are good people that shouldn’t be in jail for the rest of their lives. It makes me sick. These are the things I hear Ron Paul addressing; issues of personal freedom.”
Kistler, also a small businessman, likes Paul’s message of returning to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
“For 70 years we’ve been fighting wars without a declaration of war and that’s contrary to what the Constitution says,” he said. “The Congress is supposed to provide all the legislation, but we’ve got over 13,500 executive orders that have been issued by various presidents. That’s not what the Constitution said. It said that we should have only gold and silver as a currency, and if I show a $5 gold piece to people they wonder what it is.
“I think the thing that has most recently really made this extremely important is the fact that the current President targeted an American citizen for assassination. That’s contrary to the Fifth Amendment. That’s contrary to Article Three, Section 2, and completely ignored the concept of handling this type of situation in the Constitution. So what we are doing right now is just so far from what the Constitution has to say that we don’t really have, right now, what could be called a Constitutional government. I think we need to return to that and I believe [Paul] is the man who can do it.”
The difference from 2008, according to Boll, is that Paul has both paid and volunteer staff in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. Boll added that the Internet has been especially helpful in spreading Paul’s message without any media filter.
“When I first began hearing about Ron Paul, I was hearing what the media was telling me about him and I thought, ‘Whoa,’ and believed he was really out there,” Boll said.
“I thought, ‘Oh, he just wants everyone to smoke dope.’ Really, from listening to the media, that’s what I thought. But when I began listening to him and not what the media was saying about him, I understood that this was a freedom issue and not really about marijuana at all. I understood exactly what he was saying and, at this point, I couldn’t vote for anyone else. He’s the man.”