Ron Paul garners youth voters’ support

Traditional Republicans are wary of Paul’s campaign arguments.

Hilary Brueck

One inconspicuous 72-year-old has 4,668 friends on MySpace – and he’s one possible choice to be the next president of the United States.

Ron Paul is running on an anti-war, pro-fiscal responsibility platform, supporting many classically libertarian ideals. His platform has garnered a strong support base of students, military personnel and disillusioned former voters.

Paul’s supporters are strikingly dynamic, said Larry Jacobs, professor in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

“He’s got a pure message and he crosses political minefields with remarkable regularity,” Jacobs said. “His campaign equally ascends the economically liberal, socially conservative and military hawks.”

Jacobs said Paul’s versatility is indicative of voters’ disaffection with the traditional two parties’ candidates.

“A lot of voters are tired of the kind of calcified ideological party candidates,” Jacobs said.

One of those voters is University dental hygiene sophomore Grace Rivard, who is friends with Paul on MySpace.

“He’s one of the only guys running that has principled integrity,” Rivard said.

Rivard became so captivated this season by Paul’s message that she ran to become one of eight Paul delegates in her Dinkytown precinct, where only one republican delegate committed to another candidate, she said.

Rivard said she won’t feel comfortable voting in November unless Paul is the Republican nominee.

Kelsey Morovic, another Paul supporter, “friend” and University biology, society and environment sophomore, said when she first learned of Paul, it awakened her enthusiasm for politics, and he “made everything else seem the same.”

Morovic said she knows Paul isn’t going to make it to November, but she’s going to write him in on her ballot anyway.

Marianne Stebbins, the Minnesota coordinator for Paul’s campaign, said students see him as a unique figure in a polarized two-party system.

“They’re not just going to take what is handed to them,” Stebbins said of young Paul supporters.

But Paul’s support, while it has brought out a lot of new political activists, has not fared well with established Republicans, like Sean Niemic, a first-year electrical engineering student.

Niemic, who also serves as a College Republicans officer and volunteer for Norm Coleman, said he has one main point of contention with Paul: He can’t get behind Paul’s plan to get out of Iraq.

While he agrees with many of Paul’s policies, he sees him as too stubborn and polarizing and, referring to his anti-war policy, Niemic said, “We really can’t let him slide on that one.”

Niemic said he doesn’t know any members of the College Republicans that are Ron Paul fans, and while he doesn’t agree with the strong anti-war and foreign policy stance of Paul’s supporters, he says he’s “got to be happy they’re involved” in the political process – one of the hallmarks of Paul’s campaign.