In Texas many Republicans consider Governor Rick Perry the leader of their state party. But in Iowa there appears to be more voter enthusiasm for another Texas Republican, Congressman Ron Paul from Lake Jackson. KERA’s Shelley Kofler has more from voters about why they're supporting Paul.
On Monday hundreds of Ron Paul supporters jammed into a ballroom at the Des Moines Marriott as Texas Congressman hit some of his key messages. He repeated his call to really cut government spending, claiming his GOP opponents don’t have the courage to do it.
Ron Paul: They’re talking about tinkering around the edges and nibbling away at the proposed increases. What we’re talking about are real cuts and shrinking the size of the federal government.
Polls show Paul running nearly even with Mitt Romney to place first in Iowa, and that has confounded many pundits who view the former Libertarian candidate as eccentric and out-of-step on a number of issues. Paul wants to abolish the income tax and return to the gold standard. He wants to eliminate the United Nations and replace the Federal Reserve.
Paul also wants to immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan. That's a message some opponents call dangerous but one that seemed to resonate with Beverly Dornith, a supporter at the rally.
Beverly/Iowa Voter: I’m a lifetime Democrat and he’s going to be pulling from both parties. Nobody else has the guts in this party to say we need to reduce the military. We don’t have the resources to police the world.
Aaron Storm says he supporting Paul because Paul understands voters want less government intrusion in their lives.
Aaron Storm: His message is freedom, liberty prosperity, sound money, limited government and trying to get this nation back to its roots which is a constitutional republic.
Justin Yourison says he gave the other Texan, Governor Perry a look.
Justin/Iowa Voter: If I were to vote for the guy I’d like to have a beer with Perry would be my guy.
But he says he likes Paul’s plans for reforming the economy, and he thinks the media focus on other candidates has helped the Congressman.
Justin Yourison: If people act surprised that he’s a frontrunner here it’s because he’s been able to slip through the media and bring his message. I think we got a good shot.
If Paul places near the top in Iowa as expected the scrutiny of his views will only grow. Critics believe he’ll lose his appeal and sink in the poll. But Paul’s supporters believe he has a message that will sell beyond the cornfields of Iowa.