IOWA CITY — The 76-year-old Ron Paul counts young people among the most fervent supporters of his run for the Republican presidential nomination, and college students in Iowa City delivered for him Tuesday.
He even took some followers from President Barack Obama, who took advantage of the youth vote to help win the White House in 2008.
“I was a pretty big Obama person, and I just kind of had an epiphany that government isn’t the answer,” said Matt Taylor, a 20-year-old UI student originally from Manhattan, Ill., who caucused for Paul.
Paul, a congressman from Texas, captured 117 of the 179 votes cast at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus. The IMU served as a Republican caucus site for five voting precincts that cover the UI campus and the area in and around downtown Iowa City. In 2008, GOP turnout at the five precincts was 134.
Almost all of the caucus-goers Tuesday were college-age.
Mitt Romney got 33 votes, Newt Gingrich 14, Rick Santorum six, Jon Huntsman five and Rick Perry three. Obama got one vote in the Republican caucus.
The caucus experience at the IMU was pretty run-of-the-mill and most people had voted and left by 7:45 p.m. Only three candidates were represented in the pre-vote speeches: Paul, Gingrich and Perry. Of note was that two people stood on the stage for Perry, yet the Texas governor garnered just three votes.
Paul was the clear favorite among the crowd.
Paul Marconi, a 20-year-old UI student from New Lenox, Ill., said he believes Paul would address the debt problems Marconi thinks are being left for his generation. He also said he believes personal liberties are being encroached upon by the federal government.
“He’s just different from every other candidate,” Marconi said of Paul. “It’s all about liberties.”
Dallas Petersen, a 22-year-old who just graduated from UI, became a Paul supporter at the start of the recession and wrote in Paul’s name on his 2008 presidential election ballot.
He said Paul is incorruptible, sticks to the Constitution and has a consistent voting record. Petersen also said he believes America’s Founding Fathers would be “disgusted” by the state of the nation now and would support Paul’s policies.
“They would be in Ron Paul’s shoes right now,” Petersen said.
Two police officers were at the IMU to keep order. There was some concern Occupy Iowa City protesters would be there, but there were no disturbances.