College students, old-line conservatives, anti-globalists back contenderDES MOINES, Iowa - Four college pals, John Lindley, Jeff Shipley, Brad Jahner, and Daniel Krauss, got a chance to whoop, holler and raise the roof Saturday. The four boisterous Iowan guys cheered on their hero, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul, as he addressed a rally in Des Moines.
"I think he's probably the only candidate who can make big enough changes in our government to save us from economic breakdown," said Lindley after hearing Paul.
Lindley is a sophomore at the University of Iowa, studying history and English.
"I was looking at Obama as somebody I was thinking about supporting," Lindley recalled. Then his friend and roommate Krauss told him to look into Paul's views.
"I looked at his policies and they made a lot more sense than anybody else's."
Lindley decided that Paul, who voted against the Iraq war in 2002, had more credibility on ending the war than any of the other presidential contenders, Democratic or Republican.
Convinced that he'll pull troops out of Iraq
"He's obviously going to do something about it if he gets elected — whereas with these other candidates, there's no proof that they will," Lindley said.
He also agrees with Paul's limited government views. "The states should have more power and I think we should have a smaller (federal) government because I think that's what the Constitution originally intended."
"The problem with the big candidates — Hillary, Bush, Obama — is they don't stand on anything. You ask them a direct question, they circle around it," said Jahner, a student at Des Moines Area Community College.
Like Paul, he sees the end of welfare state as inevitable.
"It is hard to say to a crowd that we're going to take away your crutch," said Jahner. "But, the fact of the matter is, it has to happen. In order for the government not to go bankrupt, things have to get cut. What Ron Paul is saying is, 'it's coming, you knew it was coming anyway, prepare yourself.'"
Jacob Bofferding, a student at Iowa State University, said he decided to work for Paul after seeing him on a televised debate.
"For Ron Paul to stand up there and say, 'people hate us because we intervene in their lives' and for (Rudy) Giuliani to say 'that's ridiculous,' that blew my mind," said
'Stop subsidizing oppressive regimes'
"Our imperialistic foreign policy is the biggest threat to this country, not groups of terrorists that have no state sponsor," Bofferding said. "The first thing you have to do is stop subsidizing oppressive regimes in the Middle East."
Bofferding calls himself "an extreme fiscal conservative." He adds, "I don't think that the federal government has much responsibility in the way of our lives."
He hands out flyers at football games and otherwise drums up support for Paul, spending about five hours a week on the campaign.
He had the honor of introducing Paul when he spoke to a crowd of 700 supporters at Iowa State on Friday night.
A small sample of Ron Paul's supporters in Iowa in recent days found them to be a mix of young and old, mostly male, but some women.
They include traditional Christian social conservatives and homeschoolers, and fresh-faced fervent college students such as Bofferding, who embrace his free market ideas and an anti-interventionist foreign policy.
Veronica Czastkiewicz, a student at Cornell College in Iowa, showed up at Paul's Ames speech Friday night.
"I'm a constitutionalist like Ron Paul; his back-to-the-basics approach is very refreshing and inspiring," she said. "So many politicians have gone off track."
She wasn't old enough to vote in 2004, but supported Democrat John Kerry. "I was very socially liberal when I was younger," she said.
Old enough to be the father of such students is Paul's Iowa campaign chairman, Drew Ivers, a retired plant geneticist who worked on the Ronald Reagan campaign in 1980, the Pat Robertson campaign in 1988, and the Pat Buchanan efforts in 1996 and 2000.
Ivers praised Paul's belief in "limited government, anti-establishment, biblically based values."
For Ivers the enemies are "global socialism, the New World Order, empire building… The neo-cons, the elitists who are promoting global socialism" and who say, "We're smarter and wiser than the masses."
He added, "This is not a conspiracy: the Bilderbergers meet, the G-8 meets" to plan an agenda of globalism. (The Bilberbergers is a secretive informal group of U.S. and European government officials and business executives who meet annually.)
Favorite target: the 'neo-cons'
"Neo-cons" is an epithet that the Paul people use with scorn.
Steve Anders, a business executive from Council Bluffs, Iowa who turned up at Paul's meeting with Christian pastors Saturday in Des Moines, said, "The Republican Party has been morphed into a neo-con group. They've lost the original roots of the party. Even President Bush has shifted far away. Ron Paul is a strict constitutionalist; he's also a man of faith and he believes in the sovereignty of God and God's laws and the Constitution."
Flying in from Florida to make the case for Paul was his ally, Dr. Chuck Baldwin, pastor of the Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola.
Baldwin told Paul's conclave of pastors Saturday that Christian conservatives had been "duped" and "co-opted" by the "neo-cons."
Paul "opposed the unprovoked and pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, and rightly so. Time has certainly vindicated Dr. Paul's principled position," Baldwin said.
He added, "Before G.W. Bush changed the landscape, conservatives — especially Christian conservatives — mostly subscribed to Augustine's just war theory, regarding accepted protocols for the conduct of war. Today many of my Christian friends have foolishly followed Bush's pre-emptive war theory which before now was practiced mostly by pagan emperors."
For some, stance on Israel is stumbling block
But some pastors are struggling with Paul's position that Israel would be better off if it pursued a policy independent of U.S. aid and U.S. restraint.
Pastor Jim Hartman, who heads an Assemblies of God church in Conrad, Iowa, told Paul, "It seems like what drives the Christian right is the idea that we need to defend Israel."
"I don't think we do Israel any favors and we actually weaken them" by generous U.S. aid, Paul replied. "It's like spoiling your child."
But he added that individuals could still support Israel. "I don't feel that I am unfriendly or would hurt Israel," Paul told Hartman.
Afterward, quizzed about his views on Paul, Hartman said, "I've been supporting Mike Huckabee, but I would say I'm leaning real strong toward Ron Paul…. I wish a lot of my pastor friends were here."
Hartman supported Bush four years ago and explained, "Up until the last six months I had not allowed myself to imagine that we'd been let down by Bush." As for Iraq, "I don't think we were prepared to understand that culture and to work with that culture."
He said he now feels "humble and I feel kind of bad that I haven't done a better job of being faithful to Ron Paul's kind of integrity."