Crowd gathers for Ron Paul town hall
September 20th, 2011
Omaha, NE – The 2012 presidential election campaigners are making their way across the battleground state of Iowa. Tuesday, about 150 people gathered across the river in Council Bluffs for a town hall meeting with Ron Paul.
It was a town hall with Ron Paul, without Ron Paul. The Congressman from Texas was unable to attend his own gathering due to flight problems. But his campaign piped him in through the phone system to his audience at Iowa Western Community College.
“Government should be very, very limited in its scope,” he said over the loudspeakers. “It shouldn’t be there to be the policeman of the world and have central economic planning.”
Paul stuck to his message of constitutional purity at the meeting. It’s one he’s maintained throughout this campaign, as well as his 2008 bid for the Republican nomination, which went to Senator John McCain. Paul is a libertarian who focuses his message on reforming monetary policy, doing away with the Federal Reserve and significantly scaling back government – by limiting the United States’ role in foreign affairs and dismantling some domestic agencies including the Department of Education.
“No one has his views that’s in politics really,” said Chris Bettel of Lincoln, who drove up to Council Bluffs to see Paul. Bettel said Paul’s message strikes a chord because no one else is focused on bringing the troops home, or dismantling government interventions like the so-called “war on drugs,” which Bettel calls an “abomination.”
Bettel said he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, though he said he “held his nose” while doing so. But he said Paul has his support for 2012. Mark Utterback, 27, of Omaha agreed.
“He’s very plain spoken,” he said. “He doesn’t come across as scripted at all. When you ask a question, he’ll answer it, not just give a talking point that addresses a broader issue. He’ll answer a specific question with a very good answer usually.”
Utterback also voted for Obama, but says he hasn’t instituted the change he promised.
Paul has not been painted as a frontrunner in the race by the media – that role’s been shared by Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. But Paul raised over a million dollars in a single day this weekend, and a USA Today/Gallup poll out Tuesday placed him in the number three slot with 13% of the vote, displacing Bachmann who fell to five percent.
All of the candidates will likely be stomping the Iowa grounds for a while – the Iowa Caucuses are five months away. And then, of course, we head to the general.
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