DES MOINES, Iowa—Hours before the counting begins in the Iowa Republican Caucuses tonight, Ron Paul looks very strong among his faithful supporters, but other Republicans worry about his electability and foreign policy. Almost to a person, supporters of the libertarian Republican presidential hopeful predicted that Paul would place one, two or three in the first-in-the nation caucuses.
“He was fifth place in the caucuses in ’08 with about 10 percent of the vote, so by placing in the top three this year, we can say Ron Paul is established,” David Fischer, co-chairman of Paul’s campaign in Iowa and a member of the GOP State Central Committee, told HUMAN EVENTS this morning, “and that means he will go on to New Hampshire, South Carolina, everywhere.”
But a number of GOP activists in the Hawkeye State said that if Paul went on and became the nominee, they would not work for him in the general election against Barack Obama. The reason almost all of them cited was Paul’s not-very-strong position on national security. Along with wanting to make the largest cuts in Pentagon spending of any GOP hopeful, Paul is one of two Republican candidates who want to “bring the boys home” from Afghanistan and end other U.S. troop commitments abroad. He also wants to end U.S. involvement in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
Peggy Coleman, a substitute teacher in Perry, Iowa, seemed to speak for many Iowa GOPers when she told the Chicago Tribune earlier in the week: “I like 90% of what Ron Paul believes in. But, I’m scared of his foreign policy. We’d have a weaker military.”
Susan Murphy of Des Moines, Republican precinct chairman, seconded this view when she told HUMAN EVENTS she supported Mitt Romney and would back “just about any Republican against Barack Obama.” When we asked if that included Texas Rep. Paul, Murphy replied: “I don’t know about that.” She cited her late husband’s studies at the U.S. Naval Academy and his service in the Navy as a reason she felt strongly the U.S. should be militarily prepared and engaged in the world.
“Ron Paul is more isolationist and just wants the rest of the world to leave us alone,” said Murphy, “and you can’t do that in the world today.”
Tim Gilman, a University of Northern Iowa graduate working at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Clive, said he admired Paul “for his fresh ideas, especially on economics. He really makes you think. If there is a Republican President, I hope he makes Paul top economic advisor.”
But Gilman said he would vote in the caucuses for Romney rather than the man he admires so much. As he told us, “that isolationist stuff really bothered me. It’s too much.”