Reminiscences – Debate 101


Sometimes I’ll buy a cup of coffee, and I know I should wait to drink it because it’s hot. There’s steam wafting from the cup, the container says, “Warning! Contents are hot!”. Yet despite the evidence, I convince myself its drinkable, take a sip and inevitably scald my mouth. That’s what the political process in Iowa has been like for me. I know the media is misrepresenting reality; I know that politicians buy votes; I know the voting process can be manipulated. But knowing something doesn’t always prepare us for the experience.

On the morning of August 5th, my first thought as I went out to my car at 5:30 am was, “Holy Smokes, that’s some kind of thunderstorm!” I didn’t give it much thought because I was on my way to the debate. The Debate! It was my first real political event, and I was excited to see how things really work.

I arrived at Drake University along with the rain. My first impression as I walked up to the “free speech zone” was of the contrast between Dr. Paul’s supporters and Mr. Mitt’s fan club. Dr. Paul’s supporters were spread all along the block holding signs, whooping and hollering – laughing at the rain as if to say, “C’mon give me all you got!” Mitt’s kids were huddled together, looking miserable. They were all college age and the guys were wearing frat boy uniforms and the girls were in photogenic short shorts. I wondered if they all got the same memo entitled, “How to dress for debate success! Go team!”

And then I saw the big red things on their hands. What the heck? No…. are those… mitts? I wonder how much they paid a consultant to come up with that one. “Ok. Let’s go through this one more time. Mitt… Mitts. Get it?”

After a while the chanting started, and I couldn’t help grinning a bit self-righteously at the differences between the two groups.

“We’re not just the internet.”

“Say yes to Dr. No!”

“Who would Washington vote for?” “Ron Paul”

“Who would Jesus vote for?” “Ron Paul!”

“I love you, man!”


“Let’s go Mitt!”

“Gimme and ‘M’. Gimme a ‘I’. Gimme a ‘T’. Gimme another ‘T’. What does it spell!” <confused pause as they look at each other> “uh, Mitt?”

At one point, to counter the enthusiastic calls of the Ron Paul supporters, the Mitt-Mitt’s got the bright idea to start chanting, “Who’s Ron Paul!” It took them a while to realize this wasn’t a good idea.

I kind of felt sorry for them; they were a little gaggle of soggy Biff’s and Bitsy’s surrounded by a defiant and outrageously cheerful crowd of fools for Liberty. It must have been confusing to them. Not to mention that due to the downpour, their cardboard signs kept tearing and within a few minutes, they had a mountain of Romney trash floating in a giant puddle at their feet.

For some reason this really irked me. And when the puddle, which had become a stream, washed them across my feet, I leaned down and gently placed them on high ground. They looked at me and said they were sorry, and I said, “You know, you really ought to have more respect for your candidate.”

I realized at that moment that there is a fundamental difference about our campaign. We don’t view this as a team sport. We don’t want our team to win win win! Nor do we want our candidate to win so we can prove that we’re winners. Our stakes are much higher and more personal. Each person who came that day had a story to tell. One learned about Dr. Paul while researching the corrupt company he was working for. Another had decided to stop paying income taxes because they were unconstitutional. Another was researching Y2K and was appalled at what she discovered. Yet another was losing his property to imminent domain. 50 different roads leading to the same place. I wondered what the media would make of that?

As it turns out, the media was about to show me.

After the debate started, some photographers came out to take pictures. As soon as Team Mitt! saw them, they grabbed a banner and ran forward to pose. The photographers zoomed in on them and took several pictures of the slick legged girls. I was amazed at the way the photographers angled their shots to exclude the rest of us from the photos. When one of Dr. Paul’s supporters rushed over to be in the picture, the photographer stopped shooting, chastised him for posing, and tried to work around this bothersome interloper who refused to move. I watched photographer after photographer come over and do the exact same thing that morning, and each time my heart sank a little more.

After the photographers left, the college kids packed up to leave, and I leaned in to hear what they were talking about. They were comparing notes on where the campaign had sent them and where they were going to be sent next. And that was the moment I felt as though I had scalded my mouth on the hot coffee. Paid photographers were sent to take pictures of paid supporter look-a-likes to run in newspapers, t.v. shows, and websites across the country. Finally, I got how they work. I wonder if they will ever understand how we work.

I went to ABC’s website after the debate and saw the two pictures they posted of supporters. The first was of the Romney babes. In the corner, you can see one unbelievably beautiful and defiant Ron Paul sign.

The second picture is of a lone man holding a Ron Paul sign, standing in the rain. The implication is, of course, that he was the only supporter. Had he, in fact, been the only supporter, I would have been unbelievably proud. I heard his story later that same day. He was from Texas and worked for an airline. He and his 5 year old daughter had flown into Des Moines the night before so they could come to the debate. Not having anywhere to go, they set up a pup tent in the grassy strip in front of the Des Moines airport, where they slept for a few hours in the rain. The next morning they caught a ride to the debate, where they stood in a downpour for hours, showing their enthusiastic support for Ron Paul. Unwavering. Untouched by the insanity of it all. Afterwards they got a ride back to the airport where they waited on standby to go home. They couldn’t have been happier or more grateful to have been there.

Like the photographers who came that day, we all have a choice in how we capture reality. I choose to see you, the people who have Hope for America. I choose to work for the return of the land of the Free and the Brave. This is my reality, and I won’t stop until we all have it. In America. And in the world.

So, to my fellow patriots who stood in the rain and cheered for Freedom that amazing Sunday morning, I say “Thank you. You inspire me more than you can ever know. Now let’s get a move on!”


8 Responses to “Reminiscences – Debate 101”

  1. Denis Says:

    There is hope for America!
    Go Ron Paul!

  2. beckweth Says:

    You too are an inspiration. Thanks

  3. Observations outside the Iowa debate « disinter Says:

    […] 17th, 2007 Jen Solt has a very interesting hands-on account of what things looked like outside the Iowa debate on August 5th. Here are some excerpts: I arrived […]

  4. Chris Says:

    That’s all good, but the big question is: where are the photos of the wet girls in short-shorts?!


  5. P. Nicholson Says:

    I started a meetup group. We had twelve show up of all walks of life.. the next meetup we primed 100 yard signs (of losers of elections here) and then I went to another meetup an hour away in Hattiesburg Mississippi. I counted 42 people there.

    Talk about inspiring.

    I give up on the news. They can have it. Ill choose to seek the news thats important to me on the internet.

  6. titaniumgirl Says:

    Awesome account – thanks for sharing!

  7. Ron Holland Says:

    Ron Paul Is Right About the Federal Reserve – Please consider signing & promoting the Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition

    Today in August 2007, the world financial systems and investment markets, real estate and the availability of credit are all under direct assault due to past actions of the Federal Reserve in the United States.

    Read and sign the Ron Paul Is Right – Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition at

    Please link to the petition and forward this message to your friends and help the general public wake up during the current financial panic conditions to the problems we face from the Federal Reserve and Ron Paul’s solution.

  8. Ron Holland Says:

    Read and sign the Ron Paul Is Right – Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition at

    Please link to the petition and forward this message to your friends and help the general public wake up during the current financial panic conditions to the problems we face from the Federal Reserve and Ron Paul’s solution.

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