Yesterday evening I downshifted my Honda on to Alaskan Way and checked the dashboard clock. It read 7:28 p.m. and Texas Congressman Ron Paul was due to speak at 7:30 p.m. I began to visualize street parking as the rain kicked up.
When the Bell Harbor International Conference Center came into view, I saw people striding toward the building with the distinctive gait of the faithful, Ron Paul signs in hand. I scored a parking space and entered the ground floor rally. The energy in the sprawling space was an electric cocktail of anticipation and devotion.
As I made my way to a press table, a young female volunteer looked at her mobile phone, turned to her sidekick and squealed, “He’s here!” They took off running toward the stage. I pulled out my camera and gave chase.
I found an estimated 750 Ron Paul supporters facing an empty stage flanked by an American flag and the state of Washington flag, kicking up “President Paul! President Paul!” exhortations. Soon, Washington State Republican Party Chairman, Kirby Wilbur, took the stage to introduce Paul. The crowd went wild. I turned my video camera on:
Paul spoke for over half an hour, touching on his favorite topics: dissolving the Federal Reserve, disengagement in foreign wars, and repeal of the Patriot Act and the 16th Amendment (as just a few examples of items on Paul’s chopping block), and in general, removing what Paul categorizes as government interference in the lives of ordinary Americans. “It’s not the role of government to tell us how to run our lives,” he thundered to an ecstatic audience.
Sam Vanderpoole, a bearded young man sporting a “Ron Paul 2012” tee shirt and an SLR camera slung around his neck, could not agree more. “They call Ron Paul insane in the media, but I think he’s the only sane one,” he said. Vanderpoole will be caucusing up in Arlington, WA, his first one.
“[Ron Paul] is the only one with a real plan to cut the budget,” Vanderpoole continued. He summed up that his own “biggest concern is for freedom.” When I followed up on the issue of abortion, and whether this issue constituted “government telling us how to run our lives,” Vanderpoole demurred. “I haven’t thought about it,” he said, but indicated that he trusted Paul’s stance because “he’s a doctor.”
Paul continued to rev the crowed up with a reminder of his recent capture of six delegates in the Wyoming caucus, and the importance of strong turnout in Washington State.
As New York Times writer, Nate Silver, wrote yesterday in his blog Five Thirty Eight, Ron Paul could lose the straw poll but still win the delegate count.
The caucus bell goes off at 10 a.m. today. Stay tuned to see if Paul’s gamble to woo Seattle is foreshadowing for broader state support.