US elections 2012: Ron Paul gaining support of Iowan Democrats and independents

Note: This article has just appeared in the London Telegraph.  This is one of the first times that the British media have even discussed Ron Paul.  The City of London press, obliged to cover stories they cannot simply ignore, are calling Ron an ‘eccentric’.

Here’s the article by John Swain Newton:

Dr Paul, a three-time presidential hopeful credited as being the Father of the Tea Party, is gathering late momentum among Iowan conservatives after persuading Michele Bachmann’s state chairman to defect.

But he also stands to benefit from state rules dictating that everyone may vote in the party contest. “If you are not a Republican, you can register at the door,” said David Fischer, Dr Paul’s Iowa co-chairman, at a rally at a speedway stadium in Newton.

Thousands of members of Barack Obama’s Democrats, disenchanted but with no contest of their own, are set to turn out at caucus sites on Tuesday to do just that.

Almost one in four caucus-goers is expected to be an independent or Democrat, according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey.

Polls here indicate that while Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, leads the field among registered Republicans, he is overtaken by Dr Paul when everyone who intends to caucus is taken into account

Dr Paul is backed by 39 per cent of non-Republican caucus-goers while just 12 per cent support Mr Romney, PPP found.

Samantha Dunn, a 28-year-old teacher watching Dr Paul speak at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines on Wednesday night, said she would switch from the Democrats to the Republicans at her local site in order to support him.

“I voted for Obama in 2008 but we need a change,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “Dr Paul is consistent and honest, which is very hard to find. He is not just telling us what we have heard before.”

Onstage soon after, state senator Kent Sorenson, Mrs Bachmann’s Iowa chairman, caused shock by announcing that he was switching to Dr Paul just six days before the vote. “If you are as frustrated as I am with what’s been done by the ruling class, I urge you to join me,” he said.

Millions of young voters with similarly anti-establishment views discovered Dr Paul via internet forums, where a cult-like following extols his anti-war stance and revolutionary plans for Washington.

“It spreads like wildfire,” said one, Quaitames Williams, a 26-year-old nursing student. Amid the bitterest political environment in a generation, many are captivated by Dr Paul’s ideological purity.

He wants to bring home all US troops, slash $1 trillion (£649 billion) in public spending immediately, abolish five government departments, scrap all foreign aid and return the dollar to the gold standard.

“He’s idealistic, and young people tend to be idealistic,” said William Tretton, a 19-year-old Naval cadet from Newton. His 20-year-old brother Tom, who like William is registered independent but will caucus for Dr Paul, said: “Obama did that in ’08. But now he’s mud-slinging like the rest of them.”

Polls suggest that even the unearthing of newsletters produced by Dr Paul in the 1990s containing homophobic and anti-semitic material have not hurt him. “People just don’t believe he is racist,” said Tom.

Dr Paul has even attracted members of the Occupy protest movement, which is generally assumed to be Left-wing. “Like us, he wants to end the military-industrial complex,” said Clarke Davidson, a 28-year-old unemployed television producer, who registered as a Republican last week to caucus for Dr Paul.

His potential success has caused concerns among the Republican establishment. Party grandees dismiss him as an unelectable crank while Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, said he was “totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American”.

But so committed are his young fans that a secretive army of volunteers, who paid for their own flights, have arrived from outside the state to tread pavements for their hero, and are staying together in a YMCA. Banned from speaking to the media, they have been instructed to remain sober and clean-shaven and cover up any tattoos that might offend the state’s socially conservative voters.

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