Snell: Support of candidate and his staff encouraging to students


Photo: Yue Wu/Iowa State Daily

Ron Paul, a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, gives interviews before he talks about his presidential ambition at the Polk County Picnic. The Polk County Picnic is hold in Jalapeno Pete’s at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Aug. 27, 2011.

Barry Snell

Author’s note: On the night of Sept.

27, I had the privilege to ride with presidential candidate Ron

Paul on his trip to the airport to fly home. For about 30 private

and unscripted minutes, I had the 12-term congressman to myself.

The results of that interview comprise more information than

possible to convey in a single column, so the story has been broken

into segments, of which this is the fifth and last.

We pulled into the airport parking

lot, and I knew my conversation with the congressman was nearing an

end. I fired off one last question, one that wasn’t quite so heavy.

I said that the space program has historically given Americans some

of her greatest heroes, not to mention a lot of great technology

and research.

Paul eagerly agreed, so I asked what

he thought about the cuts to the space program and the elimination

of the shuttle program altogether. Paul just shrugged a little,

pursed his lips a bit dejectedly and said with a very distinct

touch of sadness, “We just can’t afford it right now.”

Then Ron leaned in close one last

time and pointed to the sky, smiling big. “You know I love the

space program, though. You’re right, those astronauts were big

heroes and quite an inspiration, and that was one of the reasons I

was interested in the Air Force. I wanted to be the first doctor in


With a laugh, Congressman Paul

opened the door and hopped out of the SUV. I opened up my door to

watch him walk into the airport, but he came around to my side and

thanked me for coming along with him. He was off and gone before I

could express my own gratitude, whisked away by his men, so

hopefully this message reaches him somehow: Thank you sir, for the

opportunity. It was an honor and a pleasure.

From the moment I got into the SUV

with Dr. Paul to the moment he left to catch his plane ride home,

it was like two old friends discussing politics. I’ve met and

talked to many congressmen and two presidents over the years, and

none have made me feel as welcome, nor have been as open, as

Congressman Ron Paul.

Regardless of one’s political

beliefs, it is extremely easy to see how this humble, sincere and

caring man has engendered so much support, both in his district in

Texas (which he always wins handily) and across the nation. My 30

minute car ride with Ron Paul reminds me of what is so great about

America. We are a very lucky people in that we have access to our

representatives. In many other countries, people don’t even get to

vote, let alone speak with their representation.

Yet there I was at one point during

the interview, sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot talking to a

Federal congressman about school, life and politics, waving at the

occasional onlooker excited to unexpectedly see one of American

governments’ shining stars in such a common, everyday place. I

think there’s a metaphor for Ron in there somewhere.

My interview with Dr. Paul is a

lesson to all students and Americans in general: If you want to

talk to your congressman or the candidates for political office,

you can. Our political system is based entirely on input from

citizens, and while it feels like there’s a disconnect between “We

The People” and our government these days, the original system is

alive and well.

Paul’s campaign staff were friendly

and inviting, and of course, Paul himself was as welcoming as a

warm fire on a cold night. It’s true that this interview is an

exceptional highlight in my many years of involvement in politics,

however the accessibility of politicians is not unique. 

This should be encouraging to all,

what with political pessimism running rampant in our society today.

It is encouraging because it means there’s hope after all; that we

can still be part of our own governance. We need only to make a

phone call and make an appointment.

Many thanks to A.J. Spiker and David

Fischer, vice-chairmen of the Ron Paul Iowa campaign, and to Heath

Hill, former chairman of the Story County Republicans, all of whom

were integral in helping me achieve this interview. And thanks to

all the thousands of people out there who’ve followed my series,

and to the scores of people who emailed me. Your support and

gratitude is humbling.

I apologize that the segments of

this interview were cut back to five instead of the originally

planned eight, and as a result, I was unable to report everything

that was said. But with luck, I’ll be able to interview Dr. Paul

again. I intend to interview other candidates as well, so either

way, stay tuned!

For more information about

Congressman Ron Paul, go to For more info on

all the candidates, check out Election Day is

Nov. 6, 2012, so get informed and get out there and vote when the

time comes.