Paul addresses supporters at caucus after-party following third-place finish


Kendra Plathe

Ron Paul addresses supporters at an after-party following the Iowa Republican caucus on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Paul finished third in the caucuses.

Aimee Burch

Ron Paul supporters came out in full force to the Courtyard Des Moines-Ankeny on Tuesday night to celebrate a third-place showing in the Iowa caucus.

Caucus-goers arrived as caucus results began to pour in, conversing with other supporters while watching real-time numbers on television screens. Voters also awaited an appearance and speech by Paul to come later in the evening.

Brettley Ruggles was one of those gathered in the Ankeny hotel to see results with fellow Paul supporters. Arriving shortly after voting in the caucus, Ruggles said she is a “huge fan” of Paul and has been supporting him for about a year.

“[Paul] is the only candidate who wants to protect civil liberties and balance the budget,” she said.

Paul’s hold on the youth vote was evident at the gathering, with almost half of supporters at the gathering falling into the key demographic.

“Youth voters aren’t voting by party. They vote for a candidate,” said Ruggles, giving her reasons as to why Paul seems to have such a stronghold on the conveted youth vote.

Salejman Malic, a high school student from West Des Moines, said he feels that he and Paul share similar views.

“It’s been a hectic race and he’s been the most consistent,” Malic said. “If you look at his videos on YouTube, he’s been saying the same things since 2001. He predicted the economic downfall.”

Malic, a Paul supporter of five months, also voiced his discontent with the other candidates, saying they are “awful.” He cited Paul’s connection with the youth as what separates him, saying Paul presents a better future.

Brad Pausley, of Des Moines, also credits Paul’s connection with young voters as being a determining factor, particularly with his use of social media. He said he believes Paul speaks in a way people can understand, saying when you hear Paul speak it does not feel like you are talking to a politician.

Josh Burhart, of Des Moines, said he is a Paul supporter of about five years. He said his support stems from Paul’s likeable nature.

“He could brag, but he doesn’t have to,” Burkhart said. “His stats speak for themselves. He has a plan. Other [candidates] aren’t as solid and just want to win.”

Paul had supporters coming from outside Iowa to lend support and a voice to their choice of candidate.

Elisabeth Bronaugh came from Kansas City, Mo., to do just that. She supported Paul four years ago in the first election she was able to participate in. She said she liked his focus on civil liberties and on reducing debt.

“He supports individual rights and liberties,” Bronaugh said. “He has an obvious big following from libertarians and he isn’t a traditional candidate.”

At 10:04 p.m., Paul and his family took to the podium to address the crowd of supporters.

“You’re doing this because you believe in something,” Paul said.

Paul continued to thank supporters for the “fantastic showing” they had at the caucus. He also highlighted some of his campaign platforms for the cheering crowd.

“Invasion of your privacy is big government,” Paul said. “Government isn’t supposed to run our lives and spend our money.”

Paul also reasserted his stance on foreign policy, saying in particular that the U.S. needs to get out of Afghanistan and stop relying on NATO and the United Nations to say when to go to war. He even brought out military veteran Jesse Thorson to address the crowd.

“Hands-down, [Paul] has the best foreign policy stance of any candidate,” Thorson said. “Keep getting involved and make sure this man is the next president of the United States.”

Paul continued to ignite the enthusiastic crowd, crediting campaign volunteers with their abundance of enthusiasm that keeps him and his family going on the campaign trail.

“We will keep scoring just as we have tonight,” he said. “We will go on, we will raise money and I have no doubt of volunteers.”

The crowd alternated between chants of “Ron Paul” and “Dr. Paul” as he declared the campaign ready to move on to the next stop of New Hampshire.

After Paul’s speech, supporters continued to mill around the ballroom and discuss the night’s events.

Des Moines resident Lacey Woltz credits older generations and their less media-savvy ways with Paul’s third-place finish.

“A lot of the counties and small towns had older groups who just go with the status quo and they don’t use technology like we [youth voters] do. They just listen to the TV,” Woltz said.

Woltz did not discount the third-place finish, however, saying that the strong finish shows Paul has lots of support.

“He has the most consistent, die-hard supporters,” she said.

Clive resident Joe Binns echoed this statement, saying Paul supporters will continue to be a driving force.

“The finish won’t impact his strategy,” Binns predicted. “It lends publicity and momentum and that will help.”