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Election 2008

Ron Paul's Montana Revolution?

John Moe

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Ron Paul's Town
(John Moe)
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Sean Hannity Flees From Ron Paul Supporters

Kalispell is in Northern Montana, the gateway to Glacier National Park. In a neighborhood of newer homes near a snowed-over golf course is David Hart's house. He's the state director for the Ron Paul campaign, Paul's only paid Montana staff member. David's overflowing desk is right next to his bed.

"Well, I usually go to bed around one or two in the morning and I usually roll out of bed around seven or so, and I don't have to walk too far to get to work," he says. "So pretty much everything between here and there is working hours."

David looks exhausted. His voice is shot. Those 18-hour days are spent on the phone and on e-mail trying to win the upcoming GOP caucuses. And it might work. According to new rules in Montana, only about 2,800 people can participate. But going to a caucus in winter in Montana can mean a lot of driving through snow and ice, and the positions aren't paid. So while many of the 2,800 slots are filled with party regulars, David sees opportunity in those still up for grabs.

"Out of about 1,700 to 1,800 positions for precinct captains, 1100 were vacant. So that was the obvious thing we needed to do to get Ron Paul the nomination, is we needed to fill those precinct spots with Ron Paul supporters," he explains. "In Flathead County where I live, 100 percent of the spots that have been filled since August have been with Ron Paul supporters."

Hart's been a Paul fan for two decades. Paul polls around 5 percent nationally, but his style of libertarian politics is a good fit for Montana, which still has a bit of a frontier feel. "Limited government, lower spending, no nation building, no policing of the world," he says. "These are things the Republican party used to stand for, but all the other candidates on the stage seem to have forgotten that. Ron Paul is the only voice of reason trying to bring the party back to its foundational roots."

Hart's never donated money to a candidate before, much less gone to work for one. But he sees some deep-seated problems in the country and he feels a sense of urgency. "I began researching things like the Federal Reserve System and some of the elite organizations that are kind of like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. You've got organizations that have a lot of power in this nation and control the way things work. And when I started digging into that further, I realized that it wasn't just conspiracy theory, it was reality. And there's a lot of truth to some of these, quote, conspiracy theories that are out there."

I asked him which ones.

"Well, like the Council on Foreign Relations," he said. "Back in 1989 when I first learned about this organization, it was hard to get anyone in mainstream media to even acknowledge that it existed. Now it's talked about very freely and openly. But their objective is not for the well-being of the American people or the sovereignty of this nation. They've got an agenda that erodes our sovereignty and leads us more toward global government."

The Council on Foreign Relations did not return a phone call requesting comment for this story.

As he tries to spread the word about Ron Paul and guide his man to victory in Montana, Hart sees other organizations lined up against him. His idea is that people want Ron Paul but the puppetmasters would have a problem with it.

"The majority of mainstream media is owned by just a handful of corporations," he says. "They've got their talking points. They've been given instructions on who to give coverage to and who not to. And Ron Paul threatens the status quo. A lot of money stands to be lost if the ideas of Ron Paul ever get implemented in this country."

We left Hart's house and went to Sykes Market in downtown Kalispell for lunch with other supporters from the nearby towns of Whitefish, Wood's Bay and Big Fork. They were of all ages and all political backgrounds, with very little in common except fervent devotion to Ron Paul.

Clarice Ryan is retired and has concerns about education. "The first step is getting rid of phonics because with phonics you can't read. And if you can't read, you can't learn. There's always been people trying to take over the world since the Roman Empire days."

Josh Pipelo, a paramedic firefighter, supports Paul's stance against the war in Iraq. "Recruitment's at an all time low, desertion's at an all time high, military suicide is at an all time high. The US military cannot be sustained, our economy cannot sustain it, and we can't even put the troops in it."

Blake Johnson is a more traditional conservative Republican but doesn't mind that Ron Paul isn't. "I completely disagree with him on capital punishment. I say if there's hard evidence and they've committed the crime, take 'em down." But he laughs as he says that it's not a deal-breaker of an issue. "Oh, they'll just be sitting around for four to eight years. We can always fry 'em afterwards, that's my deal."

So it's this coalition that hopes to take the GOP caucus in what is a very libertarian state. People here like to be left alone, they like their guns, and they're not crazy about the government. But that libertarianism presents some political challenges. Judy Campbell recalls a conversation with a potential supporter who wasn't registered to vote. "So I gave him a voter registration card, and I said take care of that, and I'll see you later. And he said, 'No. I won't register to vote because I don't want the government knowing who I am and what my business is.' And so this is a problem with Montanans. I respect that, but it's time to overcome that."

Besides libertarianism itself, Paul supporters must also overcome their man's anonymity. Josh Pipelo gets frustrated at how little name recognition Paul has, even after beating Rudy Giuliani in Iowa. "And a perfect example is when I'm handing out literature, canvassing, and trying to promote Ron Paul, and they ask me, 'Are you Ron Paul and what are you running for?'"

Ron Paul's supporters are canvassing all over Montana this weekend. Even if they win, it remains unlikely their man will get the nomination. But even then, most of the people I met said they'll simply write his name in next November anyway.

More stories from our Election 2008 series


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By T Thomas

    From Peoria, IL, 02/04/2008

    I also wanted to inform everyone of this L.A. Times article..
    Romney pondering drop-out..?
    Don't waste your vote like the others.

    By T Thomas

    From IL, 02/04/2008

    GREAT Work Montana!! Your in the news for Ron Paul..

    Ron Paul Peoria Il meetup/177..
    Keep the momentum.

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