Opinion: Ron Paul wins California Republican straw poll


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This weekend, the California Republican Party had its 2011 Fall Convention at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. One presidential candidate, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, spoke at a dinner on Friday night, and Saturday morning’s breakfast featured two more contenders: Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Paul’s fans were out in force both outside the hotel -- awaiting his arrival -- and inside the ticketed Lincoln Clubs Breakfast. He spoke last and was late, allowing McCotter to add a question-and-answer period to his prepared remarks (more on that later, check back).


McCotter is also on the roster of speakers for Sunday’s Beverly Hills Tea Party, to be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Beverly Hills Park on Santa Monica Blvd.

Raucous cheers and whistles and whoops and screams -- one could be forgiven for wondering....

...if they were for an elderly 11-term House politician or Justin Bieber -- announced Paul’s presence outside the doors. He then entered to another round of cheers and camera flashes. (Paul is also hoping for a warm reception online, using the occasion of Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the document on Sept. 17, 1787, to launch another 24-hour fundraising money bomb.)

Several breakfasters videotaped portions of Paul’s speech, which likely would be familiar to anyone who’s heard him the previous two times he ran for president -- in 1988 on the Libertarian Party ticket and 2008 in the Republican field.

He spoke at length about the historic underpinnings of current economic problems, his issues with American foreign and domestic policies, his desire to audit the Federal Reserve, his opposition to bank bailouts, and his concern that some politicians are not upholding their oath to defend the Constitution.

Among some of the lines that got the biggest cheers in the 20-ish minute talk were:

‘We have endless wars overseas and endless welfare at home. We can’t afford that anymore; we have to change those policies.’


‘We do need an absolutely thorough audit of the Federal Reserve,’ Paul added.

‘What is the purpose of government and political action? I think the main purpose of our Constitution and political action should be the preservation of liberty.’

‘It would be nice if we had a lot more respect for the rule of law.’

‘You ought to have a right to work hard, and you ought to have a right to keep what you earn.’

America’s role is to have a strong national defense, ‘not to be the policeman of the world.’ (That one was particularly popular.)

He ended with ‘I’m running on peace and prosperity and personal liberty, the U.S. Constitution and the American tradition.’

The congressman exited to chants of ‘President Paul.’

There were Paul T-shirts and signs aplenty throughout the hotel, displayed by fans that ran the age gamut from teenagers to the elderly, wearing everything from jeans and sneakers to skirts, heels and suits.

Some time after the breakfast, Paul once again passed through the hotel, accompanied by an enormous, enthusiastic gaggle wielding cameras and waving signs.


The next largest group of signs and supporters visible on the path to and from the breakfast were for the current national front-runner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

They mostly consisted of groups of roving college-age men and women in ‘Americans for Perry’ T-shirts.

Asked why she liked Perry, one twentysomething said, ‘He’s awesome!’

Also speaking at the breakfast and doing some TV interviews was KRLA 870 AM talk-show host Kevin James, a registered Republican and former federal prosecutor who has announced his candidacy for Los Angeles mayor in 2013, when current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hits his two-term limit.

Saturday at the convention also featured a straw poll, conducted between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific, with results announced during an evening banquet. Considering the large numbers of Paul fans who made their way to the Marriott, it’s not surprising that he won the poll by a handy margin over second-place finisher Perry.

But after the two Texans, the percentages drop precipitously, with Bachmann only managing fourth despite her convention appearance.

Below find the results:

Congressman Ron Paul (374, 44.9%)

Governor Rick Perry (244, 29.3%)?

Mitt Romney (74, 8.8%)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (64, 7.7%)

Jon Huntsman (17, 2.0%)

Herman Cain (15, 1.8%)

Newt Gingrich (14, 1.7%)

Thad McCotter (7, 0.8%)

Rick Santorum (7, 0.8%)

Gary Johnson (2, 0.2%)

Fred Karger (1, 0.1%)

Write-ins (15, 1.8%)



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-- Kate O’Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O’Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

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