During a rally attended by more than 1,000 enthusiastic Utahns at the Union Pacific Depot in Salt Lake City on Saturday, September 15th, Ron Paul promised that he would not become another Ross Perot. This post combines stories from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News. Video available on KSL Channel 5.
That assurance came after one man asked Paul to step aside and instead focus on building the constitutional wing of the Republican Party. Perot was the spoiler of the 1992 presidential election, drawing votes away from then-President George Bush, thus clearing the way for Bill Clinton to win several states with less than a majority of votes.
"I have a great concern that a repeat of a Ross Perot would elect another Clinton," one man said during a question and answer session with the veteran Texas congressman. "I would like to ask you if things don't work out, and you're not a nominee that you would have no desire to lead a third-party movement and instead you would lead a movement within the Republican Party to revitalize it and bring back the principles which we really stand for." Ron Paul responded that he would not lead a breakaway movement.
Menawhile, Paul was quite impressed with the size and enthusiasm of the turnout in a state that polls indicate is still "Romney's Redoubt". "Wow. If they only knew you existed over in Washington, they'd change things over there," he said as he greeted the cheering crowd.
Paul spoke fervently of his support of smaller government, including the elimination of agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, and of his support for a return to organic constitutionality. He also spoke out against the war in Iraq and any pre-emptive military action. "Because of our careless attitude about foreign policy and how we go to war, we have allowed our government to build an American world empire," Paul said. "We are not an empire. We're a republic."
Paul's stances on such topics, which have earned him the nickname of "Dr. No" in the House of Representatives, are "clearly proven" in his voting record (available via VoteSmart), according to supporter Ronald Levine. "I tell people not to listen to what a candidate says before an election or what he does," he said. "I tell them to look at what he has consistently done for the past 20 years."
That voting record is what drives his grass-roots supporters, said Mark Hudson of Syracuse. "He is the only candidate who attracts everyone from libertarians to constitutional conservatives to true conservatives," Hudson said. [Ed. Note: What's this "true conservatives" vs. "constitutional conservatives" nonsense? Constitutional conservatives ARE the TRUE conservatives.]
Paul visited Utah for the free rally and for a $1,000-a-plate brunch in Salt Lake that drew fewer than 20 supporters, as well as a $2,000-per-plate dinner later in the evening in Provo. He is the eighth presidential candidate to visit Utah, the fourth Republican. Paul had raised about $13,000 in Utah as of the June 30th filing, according to the Federal Elections Commission. The others who have visited include Republicans Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney, as well as Democrats Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson. And of course, Hillary will be visiting in October (assuming they can find ALL the remaining pipe bombs up in Roy before she gets here - LOL!)
Though polls show Paul garnering an average of only 2 percent of potential voters, many of his supporters believe the polls don't accurately show how many people support him. The non-partisan National Journal race rankings dated September 11th, which measure not only polls, but also organization, money, and "buzz", show him seventh. In addition, the mainstream media, particularly the Fox News Channel, which acts like it owns the copyright to conservatism, has not always treated Paul fairly. Other Republicans in the race such as Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have behaved somewhat condescendingly towards Paul at times.
And the Republican Presidential picture has actually been muddied a bit further by the entry of retread candidate Alan Keyes into the fray. According to the RenewAmerica website, on Friday, September 14th, Alan Keyes filed a Statement of Candidacy (Form 2) with the Federal Election Commission--thus officially announcing as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. Keyes states that he's "unmoved" by the lack of moral courage shown by the other candidates, among whom he sees no standout who articulates the "key kernel of truth that must, with courage, be presented to our people." The former Reagan diplomat ran previously for president in 1996 and 2000. During the 1996 race, he was widely credited with forcing abortion to the center of public policy debate.
However, in 2004, he suddenly accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate in opposition to Barack Obama. Because Keyes abruptly changed his residence from Maryland to Illinois, he was widely perceived as a carpetbagger, and Obama crushed him in the election by a 70% to 27% margin. Keyes' official campaign website is at http://www.alankeyes.com/, and what he brings to the debate that isn't already offered by other candidates absolutely escapes me.