Ron Paul Has Friends in Celebration


Celebration, Fla.—Celebration used to be one of the happiest and wealthiest towns in Florida. Last year it had its first murder, which put a damper on the happy talk. But it's still something of an economic anomaly along US-192, a concentration of high incomes perched between the poverty and decay of West Kissimmee, where homeless families pay by the week or the night to live in ratty hotels, and Disney World, where dreams come true.

A sea of polo shirts and pleated Dockers shorts formed into a line outside Newt Gingrich's campaign bus in Celebration earlier today to have their pictures taken with the former House speaker and likely loser in the Sunshine State's GOP primary.

Standing at the edge of the crowd of Gingrich admirers are Clark and Shane. They are anomalies themselves; young, shaggy-headed, and holding Ron Paul signs.

Are they the only two Paul supporters in town? "I know of at least a few others," says Clark. Shane nods. "It's growing."

Clark, 24, has lived in Celebration for 12 years. He and Shane both went to Celebration High School, one of the best high schools—public or private—in the region. Clark then went to the local community college and the University of Central Florida. Along with Shane, he now works in a pizza shop in the center of Celebration called Upper Crust.

"The anti-war angle is his best thing," Clark says. "The war on drugs is a big problem. It's a war on Americans, basically."

They care about the Federal Reserve, but it's not their chief concern. "I found out about that stuff two or three years ago," Clark says. "It definitely concerns me."

The two thought about making a ruckus at Newt's event, but decided instead to walk over to the polling place and cast their votes for Paul. "I think he should've come to Florida," Clark says. "He's probably thinking there are a lot of old people who want their Social Security, and he's not for that, so the odds are against him down here. But they're better than he thinks."

Working at Upper Crust is "laid back," Clark says. (His boss also came to Gingrich's event, and is torn between Gingrich and Rick Santorum.) I ask them if they have big plans for the future.

"No," Clark says.

"Ron Paul 2012!" Shane says, laughing and shaking the sign.

Clark sighs.

"We probably look like stereotypes," he says. "A couple of dudes working in a pizza shop who like Ron Paul. But I do think about the future, and it does scare me. I don't like everything Ron Paul stands for, I don't like letting corporations do whatever they want, but Ron Paul also tells it like it is. All the other guys are war-mongering for Iran. It's like they didn't learn anything from Iraq. It's time to bring the troops home, and Ron Paul knows it."