MANCHESTER – His rivals are beating him up for his foreign policy positions, but Ron Paul is finding plenty of support among Iowa caucusgoers for his non-interventionist philosophy.
Paul’s reluctance to get tough with Iran as well as his call to end foreign aid and bring all troops home has made him an easy target for other 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
It’s also made him an easy choice for some caucusgoers.
Justus Thompson of Brooklyn, Iowa, and Molly Franta of Elkader were impressed enough with Paul when he visited the University of Northern Iowa, where they are students, to attended his rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Manchester Dec. 22. Mostly, they said, it was Paul’s anti-war philosophy that attracted them.
“Ron Paul sees the value in not trying to control the world,” Thompson said. “There are several reasons, but the economy is the biggest – we can’t afford to keep doing it.”
Franta, who will be voting in her first presidential election next year, a also liked Paul’s plan to cut $1 trillion in spending the first year of his administration and end bailouts.
A couple of chairs down the row, Franta’s father, John, sounded similar themes, saying he plans to caucus for Paul because of his opposition to war – “current and prospective,”
“They’re immoral, unnecessary and costly,” the elder Franta said.
Paul campaign volunteer Will Johnson offered another reason not to listen to the criticism from Paul’s opponents. Paul’s non-interventionist approach to foreign policy will fade as a reason not to support him, Johnson, a tea party activist, predicted before the Texas congressman spoke to about 200 people at the Grand River Center.
Later, Paul had a rally at the Hotel at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids.
“Everybody talks about who supports the troops, but the better question is who do the troops support,” he said. Paul has received more support from members of the military than all of the other candidates, including President Obama.
He also believes the support Paul is attracting from people like John Franta and Thompson will be a key factor in Paul winning the nomination. Both caucused for Barack Obama four years ago,
“It’s not that I couldn’t caucus for him again, but I don’t think I will,” Thompson said about Obama. Still, he might vote for Obama before some of the Republican candidates.
“I’m really disappointed in Barack Obama,” Franta said, but he’s not sure he prefers any of the other GOP candidates over Obama.
While other candidates are splitting the traditional pool of Republican caucusgoers, Paul is attracting not only substantial numbers of Republicans, but disaffected Democrats and independents, Johnson said.
There’s also the “stickiness” factor, Johnson said. About 10 percent of caucusgoers four years ago supported Paul, Johnson said, “but there’s a 100 percent stickiness factor.”
That consistency isn’t one-side, said Roger Kistler of Olin, who described himself as a “pretty strong supporter.”
“I like to look at the YouTube movies and what he said 30 years ago he said 10 years ago and he’s saying it today,” Kistler said.
Paul is the only candidate Kistler believes will return government to constitutional principles to “preserve, protect and defend.”
Paul’s plans to slash spending and to make fundamental changes in the role of government appeal to Kistler.
Paul, who introduced two granddaughters at each event, also distributed a cookbook his wife put together.
“I can’t vouch for the nutritional value of every recipe,” said Paul, a physician, “but the taste I’ll vouch for.”
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