DUBUQUE, Iowa: At Ron Paul's events the crowds are devoted. Many of them wear stickers and T-shirts bearing their candidates' name, and supporters hang on his every word. Today's event here, in front of a crowd of 300, was no different.
After his speech, the Texas congressman took questions. The first was from a woman who immediately expressed her adoration. "I am actually a Democrat and I am in love with you," Michelle Godez-Schilling told Paul to cheers from the crowd.
The candidate put his hands on his face as if he was embarrassed before Godez-Schilling continued. "I would like to see you get as many votes as possible, and I feel like my friends who are Democrat, left-leaning, green party, they are not hearing you, so I guess I'm asking, How can I help get the word out?" she asked.
Paul told her she would be "a very good ambassador" for him. "A lot of it is word of mouth, and I do get a lot of support from Democrats and independents," Paul said. "Sometimes people say, 'Oh, he's going to talk to Democrats!' Well, that's what you are supposed to do! Build the party, build the ideas. I truly believe what I'm talking about brings people I together. I believe the issues of liberty bring people together."
The candidate also praised his organization, saying they don't just call Republicans, but are making a pitch to independents as well. His Iowa co-chairman then told the crowd that independents and Democrats can register the day of the caucuses, making it very simple to cross over to caucus.
His supporters hold signs and talk of the concept of revolution, but at the Grand River Center, Paul also mentioned the "revolutionary change in this country" when criticizing the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that places the handling of terrorism suspects in the hands of the military and limits the president's options for prosecuting or releasing the suspects. "Revolutionary in the sense of a change in ideas, not, I'm trying to prevent the violence," Paul said to cheers.
"Because if we continue to do this, there's going to be a lot of difficulties on the street. And then if you have the laws change where people can get picked up and say, Well, you're causing trouble and it looks like you're disturbing the peace and you might belong to al Qaeda and you're a terrorist and then they haul you off. So this is what we have to prevent."
The Texas Congressman's biggest applause line is always when he tells supporters he will eliminate the personal income tax. Thursday he explained to the crowd how as president he would be able to overhaul the tax code. "The other proposal I had, with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, is that we should have a law that compels all members of Congress to fill out their own tax returns. And they would have to do it on April 15 and they would have to bring all of their paperwork to the House floor and they couldn't leave until they filled out their tax return. And I bet they would change the tax code before they'd ever get finished filling out those forms."
His crowds applaud and cheer, at times leaping to their feet in support, but when he's explaining his economic, domestic or foreign policies the audience listens rapt to the details. At the end an Iowa staffer tells the crowd to stay so she can explain caucus organizing to them. It's another sure sign that the Paul team has one of the strongest ground games in the state.