Ron Paul's surprising supporters (yes, Palin and Romney too)

Even Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney are giving Ron Paul and his supporters their due. Is the GOP establishment listening? Photo: AP

CHICAGO, January 9, 2012 – If there is one thing you should never count out in politics, its Ron Paul; make that two things, if you count his supporters.

Even now, Paul, a Texas Congressman, is again closing the gap in the New Hampshire primary. A Suffolk University/7 News poll published on Saturday had Romney at 35%, down from 40% two days before. Paul rose to 20% from 17.  15% are undecided.

Ron Paul supporters watching the debate at Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

Ron Paul supporters watching the debate at Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

Republican presidential frontrunners may come and go, beaten into submission by the mainstream media spotlight or Romney Super Pac ad spots, but the two intense political factions – smaller government constitutionalists and foreign policy non-interventionists - that make up Ron Paul’s support are of the sort that “never say die.”

And if the Illinois crowd that turned out to watch their hero, Ron Paul, at this weekend’s GOP presidential debate is any indication, they will be around for many an election cycle to come. It was with a sense of passion and resolve that more than 200 Ron Paul supporters packed the Wise Fools Pub in Lincoln Park on Chicago’s trendy north side.

Some sported “End the Fed” t-shirts. Others donned t-shirts emblazoned with Ron Paul’s knowing mug and the question: “Who is this man and why is he trying to save my country?” In truth, the energy was different than your standard issue Republican event.It was intense.

Ron Paul supporters cheer their candidate at the Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

Ron Paul supporters cheer their candidate at the Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

 

So what is Ron Paul’s secret to inspiring his supporters? “Freedom is popular,” shrugs Scott Davis, an Illinois coordinator for Ron Paul.

And it truly is.

Freedom from government interference is what drives Ron Paul supporters, just as it has ignited the passions of social and economic conservatives within the Tea Party movement. There is overlap between the two groups, the quest for economic independence being the flint for the fire.

In November 2010, a roaring political wildfire spread across the country delivering 63 seats in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to the Republican Party.

How this fire of political passions will spread and what it will deliver in 2012 remains to be seen.

But freedom is also a responsibility and Ron Paul supporters have always realized their duty to defend Paul’s political case. 

Bill Kelly, the Kelly Truth Squad, at Ron Paul event at the Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

Bill Kelly, the Kelly Truth Squad, at Ron Paul event at the Wise Fools Pub, Lincoln Park, Chicago (Image: Carl Arriaza/@TWTC)

Suspicious of mainstream media, they are well-versed in domestic and U.S. foreign policy matters and able to discuss and discern the difference between a non-interventionist and an isolationist at the drop of a tricorn hat.

It is a refreshing change. Some Ivy League graduates wouldn’t know a “Kim Jong-il” from the latest xbox.

But something has happened this election cycle that is different than the rest. The recognition of Ron Paul and his supporters as a powerful political segment has finally gone mainstream.

For proof, one need look no further than GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, who in Saturday’s debate, made a point of showing deference to Paul’s expertise on constitutional matters:

Back in December, Romney said he could support a Paul candidacy in the general election. “I’ve already crossed that river, if you will, by saying on stage a number of times…that all of the people on stage would be superior to the President we have. So yes, I would vote for him.”

However, when Paul began surging in the Iowa polls, Romney quickly changed course. “I don’t think Ron Paul represents the mainstream,” said Romney on December 30.  

It is a difficult tightrope for the GOP candidates as they simultaneously bash and praise each other, jockeying for votes while trying not to alienate their competitors’ supporters.

But Romney wasn’t the only one trying to score points with Paul supporters. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin issued a sharp scolding of her own to the GOP establishment Tuesday night:

The GOP had better not marginalize Ron Paul and his supporters after this [Iowa Caucus] because Ron Paul and his supporters understand that a lot of Americans are war weary and we are broke. He [Paul] has reached these constituencies that are concerned about the solvency of the U.S, and he has proposed solutions with his austerity measures that he would like to see implemented so the GOP had better listen to what these Ron Paul supporters are saying and had better work with them.

Savvy politicians like Palin understand Paul’s philosophy has struck a chord with a segment of difficult-to-reach voters.  However, Paul has done more than reach them. He has inspired them and activated them. What makes the activism all the more compelling is the average age of the Ron Paul supporter.  Most fall within the 18-24 year-old age bracket. But, unlike Obama whose support among young voters has fallen, Paul continues to attract.

In a different way, President Reagan also attracted blue collar Democrats to the Republican Party in the 1980s. Inspired by his sunny pro-American optimism and tough anti-communist platform, Reagan transformed conservatism and made it a powerful populist brand under the Republican banner. Today, it is Reagan’s brand of conservatism that presidential candidates like Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich aspire to.

Ron Paul and his supporters are also attempting to transform the Republican brand. “The important thing is that I have challenged the status quo, the corruption in Washington, and as a doctor I know that the patient, in this case the country, is responding and now has a good chance of recovery. This is very, very pleasing to me,” said Paul in an interview with Newsmax last week.

Win or lose in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, Ron Paul and his supporters will continue to be seen and heard this election. This is democracy-at-work – whether the GOP leadership likes it or not. 

 

Read more:

A new Ron in the Oval Office? How Ron Paul can force a game changer

Mitt Romney’s liberal campaigning tactics

Nevada caucuses could give Rick Santorum and Ron Paul an opening

Romney’s CNN interview: Focus on middle class doesn’t mean he disregards poor

Ron Paul and the Israel question            

Newt Gingrich leader and legend in his own mind

 

Conservative satirist and commentator William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at williamjkellyrebuild@gmail.com.

Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times

 

 

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William Kelly

 

Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit www.kellytruthsquad.com.

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