Snell: Ron Paul presents honesty, sincerity
Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 4:06 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.
Snell: Ron Paul presents honesty, sincerity By Barry Snell
On Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, Congressman Ron Paul gave a speech at the Story County GOP chili supper in Nevada, Iowa. Prior to the event, A.J. Spiker, vice-chairman of the Ron Paul Iowa campaign, called and offered me five minutes with Paul for an interview for the Iowa State Daily.
Upon arrival, Mr. Spiker informed me I'd get my interview after the congressman got a chance to meet everyone and right before he gave his speech. I took a seat near the podium and patiently awaited my turn while the long line of people snaked by, also awaiting their turn to talk to Dr. Paul, and get an autograph or their picture taken with him.
That Ron Paul's supporters love him is obvious. I've met many congressmen before. I've been to a senator's birthday party and even rubbed elbows with two presidents. So I've had plenty of contact with politicians, campaigns and supporters of many candidates over the years.
But none of the campaigns or supporters seem to love their guy like the folks pulling for Paul. A young girl stood up before the whole crowd prior to the congressman's speech and read a report she wrote for her grade school class on her hero, Ron Paul. Her message: I believe in Ron Paul because he believes in me. Powerful stuff.
Then when A.J. Spiker walked over and knelt next to me, I figured something was wrong. The life of politics is one of change, and I assumed my interview was bumped off schedule due to time constraints. But what Mr. Spiker asked me was to become one of the highlights of my political involvement. "Would you be willing to ride with Congressman Paul on the way to the airport?" A silly question in hindsight.
Ron Paul finished his speech, interrupted several times by the enthusiastic crowd, and hurried out the door to catch his plane. Spiker looked at me and gestured toward him. "You're on, get going" was the unspoken message. Rushing to catch up, I followed the congressman to his waiting car. "Here," Paul said, "you hop in this side. I'll go around." Say what? A congressman deferring his seat to a regular guy like me? Someone get me the weather report in Hell, quick.
We got in the SUV and took off. "So," Ron says to me, "what did you think of the speech? Was it OK?" Yes, I told him. I enjoyed it very much. "I hope so. You know," he said with the wave of his hand, settling himself into the backseat, "I feel like I repeat myself a lot. I feel bad that I have to say a lot of the same things all the time, but the message of freedom is important." Clearly this was a humble man I was dealing with here, with a refreshingly human touch of insecurity.
Congressman Paul and I talked casually, like old friends. We chatted about what I was doing in school, what I wanted to do in the future, some of his past trips to Iowa State, and the fast pace of the campaign. We pulled into the Nevada McDonald's. "I'm so hungry" Ron said. "We haven't had time to eat today." Paul had stopped in Dubuque, Clinton and Muscatine before arriving in Nevada.
As we sat in the parking lot waiting for the congressman's value meal, a couple walked by. Illuminated by the dome light overhead, they could see Paul sitting there. The man peered in at us and did a double take, quickly tapping the woman's arm and pointing. The two grinned and waved excitedly, and Paul leaned forward between the front seats and waved back, no doubt making their night. Like I said, Paul's people love him, and it just goes to show that his people are everywhere.
For half an hour, I had private, unscripted access to the libertarian star; the man who seems to be setting much of the Republican agenda these days (auditing the Federal Reserve, ending the war, states' rights, the restoration of individual liberties, etc., are all classic Paul-isms that the "establishment" Republicans are copying). I asked him about the economy, a nuclear Iran, military spending, abortion, Medicare and Social Security, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, gay rights and even the space program.
The information I collected was much more than that expected from my scheduled five-minute interview and far too much for a single article in the Daily. And rather than do injustice to a rare honest and sincere man, I have been given license by my editor to split my report on Paul up into several parts, to allow the congressman to speak for himself instead of reducing him to irrelevant and uninformative sound bytes.
So stay tuned!
Presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, signs a "Don't Tread on Me" hat for a young boy during the Story County GOP's Chili Supper on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Nevada, Iowa. Paul was the keynote speaker for the GOP's fundraiser supper after spending the day campaigning in eastern Iowa.