Le Mars- The self-proclaimed "ice cream capital of the world" (by virtue of being the home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream) was an afternoon stop for Texas US Representative Ron Paul's barnstorm of western Iowa.
Leading in some Hawkeye polls, Paul attracted a crowd of over one hundred people to Le Mars Convention Center. Paul was relatively soft spoken in his address, covering many of his signature promises concerning an overnight reduction in foreign aid, the establishment of a new national monetary policy and shrinking the US military presence around the globe.
What was interest in was how he presented himself. Surrounded by a retinue of suit-clad aides, the Paul operation looked very bit part of the establishment they seek to overturn.
Waiting in attendees chairs were specific instructions concerning the process of the precinct caucuses (an indication that they're counting on the participation of first-timers) and paperback copies of The Ron Paul Family Cookbook(!).
Now let's delve into this unique piece of campaign literature.
Inside the pamphlet, which resembles a copy of a Thanksgiving edition of Better Home and Gardens, are recipes for Oreo Cake, Razzle Bo-Dazzle Pork Tenderloin, Sicilian Supper, assorted casseroles and other homemade culinary creations.
In between the recipes are family photos of Paul, a picture of the congressman while he ws in the service and Bible verses.
Something tells me this literature was not also dropped in the Iowa State University Student Union.
Paul has spent the last year trying to portray himself as a sound messenger of radical ideas. His setup at the Ames Straw Poll resembled a church picnic, complete with a wholesome looking family who handcrafted dresses out of campaign t-shirts (they also made the cookbook).
Paul made a point of stressing his commitment to the pro life agenda and touted the strong support he enjoys from active military. No mention was made of his opposition to the war on drugs.
There was some political hatchetry on the stop as one of the state legislators supporting Paul took not so subtle shots at Newt Gingrich's infidelities and stressed Paul's devotion to his wife Carol ( who is not only prominently pictured on the cookbook's cover but is listed as Mrs. Ron Paul).
Judging by his advertising, Paul sees Gingrich as his biggest threat to having the opportunity to face off with the candidate who personifies the political establishment: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Though he won delegates, Paul didn't carry a single state in his 2008 presidential bid and seems poised to claim the opening contest for the GOP nomination. He ran 5th four years ago with 10%.
His supporters in Iowa have increased and diversified beyond the conspiratorial and ganjistas. The crowd in Le Mars consisted of the elderly, young families and a smattering of young people. Take away the Paul signs and you would have thought it was a Huckabee rally.
In 1996, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan came within 3% of defeating Kansas US Senator Bob Dole. Buchanan's supporters consisted of religious evangelicals and anti-establshment types. It seems Ron Paul is trying to borrow a recipe from Buchanan's 1996 political cookbook by throwing a splash of pro life, Bible talk to his pepper steak.