Sunday, November 20, 2011
A day in the life...
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It’s 10:00 am at WHO Newsradio in Des Moines, Iowa, and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul begins in its studio a long day of political campaigning in this Midwestern US state.
With huge earphones covering his ears, he keeps describing the economic situation in the United Stated States in dark, pessimistic colors.
“Things look bad,” he says on Friday morning, arguing that federal spending must be reduced at all cost.
On the other side of the glass studio, his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, nervously prepares messages on his mobile phone.
“We’re growing and building support,” Benton tells AFP.
After campaigning in the shadow of other candidates, Paul caught second wind in recent days in Iowa, a crucial state in the nomination contest.
According to a survey from the University of Iowa made public Thursday, he is now running in second place with 20.4-percent support, just behind former pizza magnate Herman Cain, who had 24.5 percent.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was third with 16.3 percent. But 8.1 percent of respondents remained undecided.
"Our goal is to be in the top three in Iowa and in New Hampshire," Benton said, citing the two states that will hold the first contests of the 2012 primary election campaign on January 3 and 10.
"And at the same time, we're building a very strong organization," the campaign manager adds. "We'd like to win, but our goal is to be in the top three."
After an hour-long radio interview, Paul, closely followed by his bodyguards, rushes to his 4X4 and heads toward Vinton, a small town in eastern Iowa.
Fifty people are finishing their lunch at Pizza Ranch there, when the doors open and Ron Paul enters the restaurant.
"Hi, Ron! Good to see you!" says one of the patrons.
"Hi, how are you," answers the candidate before reciting the fundamentals of the electoral program.
This doctor, who represents Texas in Congress, already made attempts to run for president in 1988 and 2008.
This time, he promises to save one trillion dollars in one year if he is elected president.
To achieve this goal, he says he will need to bring US troops home "as soon as possible."
Paul's granddaughter Lisa, a student from Texas, is at the event to support him.
But the room contains not just his supporters.
"I hear a lot of recitations on what the problem is but not much on solutions," Mike Dulaney, a 67-year-old retiree, tells AFP after Paul's departure
"He's a very smart guy ... but I'm going to vote for Mitt Romney. Romney is a credible candidate. Paul is credible too, but he's too old, he ran too many times."
At 4:00 pm, Paul enters the municipal center of Anamosa, where he addresses more than 80 people for about an hour, speaking without notes. He emphasizes the need to defend individual freedom against a federal government that, in his view, has become ubiquitous.
Jim Blitgen, a 52-year-old local farmer, likes the idea of limited government and complains about not being able to use the label "organic" on his produce because, according to him, the Department of Agriculture denied him certification.
"I like his honesty, his willingness to go by the Constitution," Blitgen says of Paul. "Whenever we followed the Constitution in our history, we did OK."
Paul ends the day in Cedar Rapids, the largest city in eastern Iowa. He is greeted here by more than 300 people chanting "President Paul!".
He delivers the same speech on public spending and foreign policy and receives the endorsement of the founder of the local chapter of the ultraconservative Tea Party.
Paul continues down the campaign trail in Iowa on Saturday.