MSNBC national affairs writer Tom Curry has punched up two informative articles on the Paul phenomenon from Iowa—a state whose importance ranks after New Hampshire and South Carolina in the campaign's calculus. He watched Republican officials "sit on their hands" during a Paul speech and chatted with Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's 2004 campaign manager.
"From what I see, Ron Paul is doing much better than his better-known opponents think he is doing. He is at that stage of the Dean campaign when all the other campaigns are laughing at him and have no idea of how strong he really is."
Trippi added, "This kind of candidacy can be surprisingly strong in a caucus state particularly if it stays just below the radar."
Drew Ivers, Paul's Iowa campaign chairman, used that same phrase in addressing the Paul rally in Des Moines Saturday.
Ivers asked for show of hands on how many members of the audience were registered Republicans. Seeing that about half weren't, Ivers told them they were "under the radar — which is exactly where I want to be."
Curry points out that Ivers worked for Pat Robertson 20 years ago, and that Robertson shocked almost everybody by placing second in Iowa. And Ivers might provide grist for the anti-Paul blogs:
For Ivers the enemies are "global socialism, the New World Order, empire building… The neo-cons, the elitists who are promoting global socialism" and who say, "We're smarter and wiser than the masses." He added, "This is not a conspiracy: the Bilderbergers meet, the G-8 meets" to plan an agenda of globalism.
The companion piece is about something I'm still trying to wrap my head around: Paul's young supporters.
Jacob Bofferding, a student at Iowa State University, said he decided to work for Paul after seeing him on a televised debate.
"For Ron Paul to stand up there and say, 'people hate us because we intervene in their lives' and for (Rudy) Giuliani to say 'that's ridiculous,' that blew my mind," said Bofferding.
"Our imperialistic foreign policy is the biggest threat to this country, not groups of terrorists that have no state sponsor," Bofferding said. "The first thing you have to do is stop subsidizing oppressive regimes in the Middle East."
More reason on Paul here.