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Caucus Time! RDR in Iowa

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
A Ron Paul presidential sign was placed at the Iowa state line.
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By Andrew W. Griffin

Red Dirt Report, editor

Posted: January 2, 2012

NEWTON, Iowa – Upon crossing the Iowa state line from Missouri, not only are you greeted by the requisite welcome sign but you also see not one, but two “Ron Paul for President” political signs stuck in the ground.

Stopping to take a closer look, we are suddenly accompanied by a TV crew from a station down in Kansas City. They are up here, on the windswept state line, getting footage of the signs in advance of a story about Tuesday’s much-anticipated Iowa caucus. And so, your Red Dirt Reporter, along with Red Dirt Report political writer Ted H. Smith, are here as well, looking to talk to Iowans – and others – about the 2012 presidential race, the Republican candidates and the issues that are important to them.

Pressing on, we arrive in Des Moines at the downtown Marriott Hotel where U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is speaking to a large audience of interested Iowans and the local and national media. In fact, the media seemed to outnumber the supporters.

Talking to people who are coming out of the speaking engagement – Paul was already out the door and heading to the Quad Cities for another final stop – said that Paul gave a fairly standard speech. As one supporter told us, Paul emphasized “freedom and liberty.”

Talking to folks coming out of the Paul event, many were enthusiastic about the libertarian candidate’s chances in winning the support of Iowa Republicans tomorrow night.

Monte Goodyk, of Sully, Iowa, said Paul’s position on things like dismantling the Department of Education really resonate with him.

“I was a Romney guy four years ago,” Goodyk said. “But I jumped on the (Paul) bandwagon two years ago and it’s been refreshing.”

Sean E., a Des Moines resident, said he was impressed with Paul’s position on the wars and essentially ending the power of the Federal Reserve.

“We don’t have the money to spend overseas,” Sean said. “And we can’t police the world either.”

Interestingly, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews, was sitting in the lobby of the hotel, wearing a C-SPAN cap and taking pictures with fans. Red Dirt Report asked Matthews about Ron Paul and his message. The liberal Democrat was candid about Paul and said that Paul’s popularity is further evidence of “war fatigue” within the Republican Party.

“Individual liberty … that’s appealing to voters. (Paul) believes in what he is trying to do.”

Matthews also noted the “innocence” surrounding Paul, his campaign and his legions of supporters.

And, unexpectedly, Matthews emphasized the fact that the media has done a poor job of giving Ron Paul fair coverage during the 2012 campaign cycle.

“I hate to see the media reduce the importance of Ron Paul,” Matthew s said. “They have to be willing to  hear from people who aren’t part of the mainstream.”

Matthews – who paused briefly in our interview to say hi to Bret Baier of Fox News - made several references to the 1964 campaign of Republican candidate Barry Goldwater (Matthews has just released a book about his hero, President John F. Kennedy) and to Paul’s campaign. He even loosely compared Ron Paul’s emphasis on serious issues to that of radical, 1850’s abolitionist John Brown, who took a no-holds-barred approach to the abolishment of slavery, up until his execution in 1859.

Michael Bayham, a New Orleans, La. resident, said he was in Iowa simply as an observer of the political process in the Hawkeye State.

“Ron Paul has a lot of enthusiasm not only from the young but from middle-aged and older supporters,” Bayham said. (Paul) is obviously striking a chord with people.” Bayham, a political watcher and a blogger familiar with Louisiana’s Dead Pelican site – the site that inspired the creation of Red Dirt Report – and it’s operator Chad Rogers, said he was pretty certain Ron Paul would finish in the top three tomorrow and that Ron Paul’s “sophisticated” campaign has worked well so far.

Outside the Marriott, West Des Moines resident Jonas Cutler, along with his daughter Arianna, left U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) campaign bus and said the congresswoman for very polite – “Minnesota nice,” as Cutler put it.

Cutler, a Marine who served in the war in Iraq, said that he and his daughter were out gathering signatures from all the candidates – Bachmann, of course, was their latest – and he said that Ron Paul had his support.

“I want to see the troops come home,” Cutler said. “I don’t want to see my own daughter sent over there in some war in six years.”

Regarding his fellow Iowans, Cutler said that many were “absolutely” fed up with the ongoing wars and comments from candidates like Rick Santorum – who did not serve in the military – who don’t see a problem with overextending our military.

Local polls, including those noted by The Des Moines Register and WHO radio were emphasizing how Paul,  Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were in a three-way tie, so far. Others, including Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann – whose campaign bus idled near the Marriott – are not expected to take the caucus. But, like the cold winds sweeping the prairie today, things could shift at the last minute.

Red Dirt Report will continue to report on the Iowa Caucuses through Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2012 West Marie Media

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Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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