Paul's Final Day Before Primary A Rocky One
Not all went according to plan for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul on the campaign trail the day before the New Hampshire primary.
STRATHAM, NH— The candidate whose supporters often complain he doesn't get enough coverage in the media — is now afraid he's getting too much of it.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul was scheduled to participate in a public breakfast at Moe Joe's Restaurant in Manchester on Monday. The press was invited to join him between 8:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., but Paul left the restaurant within minutes of his arrival. The campaign claimed members of the media had shoved Paul's wife, Carol, and told her to "get out of the way."
As the candidate's caravan tried to leave the parking lot, it was blocked by a bearded man who called himself "Vermin Supreme" and wore a black rubber boot on his head and a bright yellow jacket with animal stripes. "Let me run your life," he yelled into a megaphone. "I would surge in the polls like you wouldn't believe." The man tried to get Paul's attention and held up the campaign entourage for a brief moment before he stepped aside. Members of the media captured the incident on camera (as well as the sight of a disappointed voter trying to convince Paul to come back inside to meet her elderly mother.)
“The campaign had planned to cover our normal degree of media interest, which is always ample. However, a significant increase in the press corps, largely driven by an influx of foreign journalists, exceeded all expectations," Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said in a statement this afternoon. An independent, pro-Paul group called RonPaulFilms posted their video of the brief visit here.
There were indeed dozens of reporters and photographers at the restaurant, but there were also many spectators trying to get close to the candidate. After his performance in Iowa, there is a renewed fervor around Paul in New Hampshire. His crowds are enthusiastic. His signs are everywhere. And in addition to the media and the Paul fans, there was also a giant Americans Elect 'party crasher' bus in the Moe Joe's parking lot, trying to bring attention to the group's efforts to get a unity ticket on the November ballot.
The next event, in the quaint community of Hollis, was more positive for Paul. It was first conceived as a neighborhood meet-up about homeschooling, but it drew so much interest that organizers told the Tribune, they moved it to a barn that serves as the community center. A couple hundred people heard the candidate's pitch for cutting $1 trillion his first year in office by cutting overseas spending and eliminating five federal departments.
The meet and greet was preceded by an incident in which Paul's interview with CNN Correspondent Dana Bash was interrupted by Benton, after she reportedly asked about the restaurant incident.
Paul's final public event of the day took place at Timberland, the outdoor gear company based in Stratham. He addressed employees for nearly 20 minutes and took questions from the audience. Asked about what he'd do to protect the environment considering he'd want to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, Paul said it's a private property issue. Environmental causes are actually hurt by excessive regulations, he said.
When asked about Iran threatening to close off access to the Strait of Hormuz — a major waterway for oil transport — in response to international sanctions, Paul accused that country's leaders of bluffing. He warned the audience that the U.S. should not overreact to incidents with military force and should apply the Golden Rule to its foreign policy decisions.
(Watch the video below.)
"What if the Chinese came into the Gulf of Mexico and took over the Gulf of Mexico? I know we in Texas would be pretty annoyed. We believe we own everything," Paul said, drawing laughs. "What I advocate is not overreacting. We have 12,000 diplomants in the diplomat corps. Let's use them once in a while."
Heading into Tuesday's primary, most polls show Paul in second place. With an estimated 17 to 20 percent of the vote, he is polling far behind Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts. As of Sunday, Benton said they still plan to fight to "close in on Romney for number one." They responded to their greatest threat for second place in New Hampshire — former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman — with a barrage of emails claiming he is "not a serious candidate."
Regardless of his frustration with the media today, Paul's campaign said he would spend the rest of the evening doing television interviews, in hopes they can reach out to voters statewide.
Check back with texastribune.org for video posts from the campaign trail.
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