Anti-war Ron Paul attracting support from local left
LACONIA — Amid polling last week that showed Ron Paul running into the money in both Iowa and New Hampshire there were also signs that he was tapping support from an unexpected quarter — the left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Lynn Rudmin Chong, former chair of the Belknap County Democratic Committee, has publicly endorsed Paul and said that "I have found other kindred souls." The Sanbornton resident said that she left the Democratic Party and changed her voter registration to "undeclared" in anticipation of taking a Republican ballot in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary and casting her vote for Paul.
"He is the only one saying no more war," Chong said. She spent two days in Washington with the "Occupy DC" movement, where she said that she was encouraged to see so many young people holding signs supporting Paul.
"I would definitely call myself a progressive," said Will Hopkins of Belmont, who returned from a tour as infantryman in Iraq to become executive director of New Hampshire Peace Action, a group seeking to end foreign wars and cut defense budgets. "I supported Obama in 2008, but I'm supporting Ron Paul. That's where I'm putting my eggs this year," he said. "A lot of folks in the peace movement are taking a close look at Paul."
Signs that liberals and progressives were flirting with Paul appeared last spring, when Robin Koerner, a British national who founded "Watching America," which publishes foreign news about the United States in English, and blogs for the Huffington Post, described Paul as the "conservative champion of liberalism." He coined the term "Blue Republican" to brand progressives for Paul, which was promptly promoted on Facebook, where his article was shared 11,000 times in less than a week. In July. Koerner posted "If you love peace, become a 'Blue Republican' (Just for a Year)," telling progressives they do not have to like the GOP "to sign up as a Republican for a year to help make sure that the Republican primaries are won by the one representative who has always been for peace, has always voted against bailouts, and has always opposed the reach of government into your bedroom, your relationships and your person."
On their website Blue Republicans describe themselves as "people who have never before thought of joining the Republican Party . . . who identify as Democrats or Independents and/or supported Obama in 2008."
Jim Forsythe of Strafford, the state senator from District 4 and chair of Paul's campaign in New Hampshire, said that he was aware of independent voters, both conservatives and liberals, either eying or backing Paul. He said that some some liberals and progressives share Paul's opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, eagerness to reduce the defense budget at home and military footprint abroad, hostility to the Patriot Act and distrust of corporate power.
"I'm being pragmatic," said Chong, explaining that she would vote for Paul in the primary without showing her hand in the general election. However, she admitted "I am feeling way distanced from Obama."
Hopkins vowed to support Paul in the both the Republican primary and the general election. However, he said that if Paul loses the nomination to another Republican, he will throw his vote to a third party.
Polls conducted by Bloomberg News last week put Paul in second place behind Mitt Romney in both New Hampshire and Iowa with 17-percent and 19-percent respectively. Unlike several other GOP candidates — Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich — whose polling numbers have waxed and waned, Paul has polled consistently, without, however, significantly expanding his support.
Another Bloomberg poll indicated that if Paul bolted the GOP to run as a third-party candidate, he would capture 18-percent of the vote, effectively throwing the election to Obama, who would top Romney with 44-percent to 32-percent.