Paul Speaks to the Hearts of NH Voters
Veterans among those who show up to Town Hall forum to voice support for Texas congressman.
Just before the crowd was allowed to take their seats inside the Judd Gregg Auditorium for Monday night's Town Hall forum, Congressman Ron Paul had an understated moment with a small group of fellow veterans, all supporters of Paul for President and his interest in ending the current war.
They had come to publicly endorse Paul's candidacy. They had come, they said, because Paul is the lone voice for sensibility and has a message of truth for a world that has been fractured, in every way, by prolonged war.
Joshua Holmes, 24, of Manchester, has supported Ron Paul since 2008. He was an infantryman with the Army for two tours in Iraq. He's seen friends die in combat -- but he's lost even more friends, of late, to suicide.
"I support our troops, but there is no mission there. This is why more veterans support Ron Paul than all the other candidates put together," Holmes said.
"I was a freshman in high school when 9/11 happened. I have served two tours and am out of the military, and the war is still going on. That's not how it was in past wars. That's not how it was supposed to be," Holmes said.
Paul spent about 90 minutes in total, speaking on some of his key platforms, including his interest in dismantling the Federal Reserve, promoting a free market economy and rebuilding the country based on true liberty for all.
Questions from the audience ranged from his position on illegal immigration to the perception that he's got no heart, due to some of his Libertarian policies.
Paul responded as he's been responding, that there should be no free pass to citizenship, and that less government interference is the most compassionate way to lead a nation based on the notion of personal freedom.
And while most who stepped to the microphone professed to being die-hard Ron Paul supporters, there were a few who admittedly came to find out more about what a Paul presidency would look like.
Constituent Russell Paul of Nashua was concerned about the candidate's stand on gay marraige, and asked him if he agreed that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Paul said he personally did believe that.
"But I don't believe we need the federal government to get us all to agree," Paul said. "I've been married to the same woman for 54 years. I don't want to convert anyone to my beliefs, or vice versa," said Paul, his words drowned out by applause from the audience.
Another question came from Andy Bridge of Amherst.
"Will a Ron Paul presidency keep me and my family safe, with forces like radical Islam looking to destroy the Christian faith?" asked Bridge.
Paul said as president his goal would be to provide a strong national defense, and he'd work toward identifying why America is not safe in the first place.
"We're told they resent us because we're free and prosperous. Well, I don't buy that," said Paul. "There are other countries free and prosperous, like Switzerland -- you don't see them worrying about someone dropping bombs."
Paul said a policy of neutrality would be a step in the right direction, and that Americans should be approaching foreign policy like a "golden rule," of doing undo others.
Afterwards, Bridge said that although Paul answered his question, he wasn't sure whether it was enough to answer his concerns, as a voter.
"What he's suggesting really requires a whole shift in my way of thinking and the position of the United States' role in government," Bridge said.
While he is not ready to endorse Paul, he said right now he's leaning in that direction.
Discussion outside the venue following the event between a group of Democrats was not altogether different.
"We aren't Ron Paul fans, but we do agree with some of what he's saying," said Ellen Barr of Nashua. "Like taking down military bases and not wanting to go into new wars. But I'm also one who feels the government should step in to help those who are vulnerable."
Barr said she supported President Obama in 2008, and has some reservations about supporting him again in 2012, which is one reason why she came out to listen to what Paul had to say on the issues.
"I would've like to see him discuss more talking points, like how do we address the problem of jobs and Social Security, instead of how we should disable them," Barr said. "As a Republican, he's a big exception, and he stands alone in that way. But because he's a big Libertarian, he has no chance of winning."
Elaine Thomas, also of Nashua, said she is concerned about Paul's no-tax policies and where they would leave those who are dependent on disability income, like her disabled son, who is in his 40s.
"It's an insurance program to me, not an entitlement. I have paid into Social Security since I was a teenager, and I stopped at the age of 71. I would like to know how someone like my son would fit into his talk of freedom, and no taxes and everyone taking care of themselves," Thomas said.
Adrian George of Nashua said he appreciates Paul's candor, but feels it's too much naive idealism.
"I'm afraid the way Ron Paul and a lot of these other Constitutional candidates approach the issues is too simplistic. I'm 57, and I've worked hard all my life. I've saved for my retirement and for my daughter's college education next year. I'm worried that if I lose my job, all my hard work and savings is wiped out," George said.
"This is how real people think. This is what we fear, but you don't hear them addressing that. People didn't cause these problems with our economy, but none of them are discussing how corporate power is ruining this country," George said.
He expects to vote for Obama in 2012, despite wishing there were an alternative that made more sense.
"I was skeptical of Obama, too. I didn't think he'd go this far to the right. So I guess I'll go back to the polls holding my nose," George said.
This was the second in a series of Town Hall-style events presented by We the People Freedom Forum, a Nashua-based organization headed by Republican activist Jennifer Horn, that promotes the Constitution.