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Young Ron Paul Volunteers Descend on Iowa

Young Ron Paul Volunteers Descend on Iowa

By Scott Conroy - December 29, 2011


NEWTON, Iowa -- As they waited for a bus dubbed the "Constitution Coach" to pick them up at the Des Moines airport and bring them to their makeshift lodgings late Tuesday, about two-dozen college-aged Ron Paul volunteers mingled in the cold night air.

The sudden appearance of a reporter’s notebook and tape recorder drew comments befitting a group of young people who proudly wear their skepticism on their sleeves.

"What's the article you're going to be writing, man?"

"Yeah, what's the spin, bro?"

Asked where they had flown in from, the answers ranged from California to Virginia -- with one twenty-something purporting to have made the trip from Brazil to help Paul win the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday.

Unsure of what exactly they would be assigned to do, the eager foot soldiers who had signed up online and paid their own way here said they were prepared to phone-bank, knock on doors, speak at caucus precincts, or do basically anything that is asked of them.

When a volunteer noted that he was not authorized to speak to the media, one of his new friends quickly corrected him. “No, you can,” he said. “You haven’t signed anything yet.”

Members of the group confirmed that they were told by the campaign they would have to sign agreements that would bar them from talking to reporters. A spokesperson for the Paul campaign did not respond to an inquiry about the restriction and declined to provide an estimate of how many out-of-state volunteers were expected in Iowa down the homestretch.

Throughout a 20-minute chat about their efforts, the volunteers frequently steered the conversation back to their level of dedication.

“What other candidate has this many people coming in from out of state?” one of them asked, noting that she had raised the money for her plane ticket to Des Moines.

No one could doubt their enthusiasm, but these young supporters nonetheless face a steep challenge in building a winning coalition of rank-and-file Iowa Republicans and nontraditional caucus-goers, while avoiding comments that might turn off either group.

Though several of them were eager to extol Paul’s support for drug legalization and opposition to the CIA’s targeted drone strikes in Pakistan, none mentioned the candidate’s pro-life credentials that have been a focal point of his TV advertising campaign here.

Still, 25-year-old Brennan Westerson of Santa Rosa, Calif., said he was confident he could help persuade traditional Republican voters here -- many of whom are firmly within the senior citizen demographic -- to get behind Paul.

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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