I'm set up for the Republican debate after a short trip outside, talking to delirious presidential groupies. As you can see, the Ron Paul forces—up to 200 of them—absolutely dominated the free speech zone. Nice-looking Romney/Rudy/McCain backers were outnumbered from the getgo, and they were hopelessly outmatched in the Battle of the Chants. For example:
MITT SUPPORTERS: M-I-T-T! Romney! Romney!
PAUL SUPPORTERS: Abolish the Federal Reserve! Abolish the Federal Reserve!
Another great Paul chant: "Ron Paul rules! And not just on the internet!"
I don't think I'm giving the other candidates' supporters short shrift. Most of them trickled in after work and were beat to the crucial front-of-the-pen camera spots by SEIU, anti-war protesters, and the One Campaign. But no one's too combative or sour. Mitt Romney backers built a gag harpoon and "speared" the Flip Romney dolphin. Rudy backers declined to say anything nasty about Paul. The 9/11 Truth folks idled at the back of the pen, engaging the skeptics and occasionally yelling stuff like "Rudy's a war criminal!" and "Cheney was the inside man!"
There'll be a full debate thread up at 7.