Meeting Ron Paul (for real Part I
I spent the day yesterday in Manchester at the Marriott Fairfield Inn with the Ron Paul family, and attended the CNN debate as one of 10 of Ron Paulâ€™s guests. It was unbelievable! The Paul family was tremendously warm and kind, welcoming me into their world. After spending some time together in the afternoon, I had an hour or so in my hotel room, during which I wrote the below piece. We were told to meet back in the hotel lobby for the caravan to the debate at 4:50pm, and if anyone was late, theyâ€™d be walking to the debate â€“ 12 miles away!
As I got into my writing, time slipped away on me. I wanted to post this as Part I before the debate, and update it with Part II when we got back, but I lost track of the time. When I checked the clock â€“ it was already 4:40 and I hadnâ€™t yet showered or changed! I had to get ready to go!
Meeting Ron Paul (for real) Part I:
The Marriott Fairfield Inn in Manchester is your standard business motel - a nondescript box like thousands of others scattered across the country alongside highways and near airports. As I pulled into the parking lot after my hour-long drive from Boston, the world outside looked like a hurricane. Trees were bent over, blowing in the wind. The rain was so thick that the fastest speed on my rental carâ€™s windshield wipers wasnâ€™t fast enough. By now the rain had turned to hail and then into something worse â€“ huge, grizzled chunks of ice the size of gum balls. They were falling from the sky, thump, thump, thumping on the roof of my rented car. Having not brought an umbrella (it was sunny in Boston when I left), I had to wait it out in the car before making a mad dash to the hotel. It was 1:00 pm. The plan was to meet Matt Pyeatt, Ron Paul's eldest grandson - the one who had invited me here - at the hotel, but I knew that his plane hadn't yet touched down.
When I walked into the lobby, there was Ron Paul himself, sitting alone at a computer, checking his email like any normal human being. His back was to me, but I could see his face reflected in a mirror just behind the computer screen. I recognized him immediately - how could I not? I've seen his face a thousand times on television, in print and of course on the internet. But there he was in the flesh.
I hesitated. He hadn't seen me and certainly wouldn't recognize me if he had. He's heard about this website - in fact, it is the reason I was invited up here in the first place â€“ but weâ€™d never met in person. One of my first posts on this blog was titled, How I First Met Ron Paul," and the first line read, "Okay, I donâ€™t actually know Ron Paul personally..." But knowing that I actually was going to meet Dr. Paul today â€“ in person â€“ was enough to keep me up until the wee hours of the morning the night before, tossing and turning, wondering what I was going to say to him, wondering what it was going to be like. I wasnâ€™t exactly nervous. I've heard enough about him to know that he is a sincere, kind and unpretentious man. And he is. But still I was too excited to sleep the night before.
So there I was in the hotel lobby, examining the reflected image of Dr. Paul's face in the mirror. Yup, that was him alright. He looks just like he does on TV, only there he was in the flesh. My hero. I didn't want to interrupt him, but every kid wants to meet his hero! So I walked over. "Dr. Paul," I said. "Yes," he said, rising up from his chair to shake my hand. "Michael Nystrom from the Daily Paul." "Oh, yes," he said, his face broadening into a warm smile.
We chatted for a while - about the website, about the campaign, about the weather. He was worried that his family was flying through this terrible storm. He nervously eyed the door, expecting his family to come walking through at any moment. My cell phone rang and it was Matt, telling me their plane had touched down safely and they'd be at the hotel soon. Dr. Paul was relieved and I let him get back to work.
* * *
"So blogging does pay off!" my friend Charles said when I called him and told him about it from my hotel room. Charles was at the rally in New York before Dr. Paulâ€™s appearance on the Daily Show. I told him about how Dr. Paul's family was so warm and welcoming to me. Granted, I'm an outsider - just some random blogger that Matt took a liking to and somehow finagled into the events of this extraordinary day. But the Paul family made me feel right at home, just like one of them. There I was later in the afternoon, sitting in the hotel's dining room around a big table with Mrs. Paul, Matt and his two brothers Mark and Mike talking about what we should do for lunch when in walks Dr. Paul and takes a seat right next to me. He'd been in the exercise room working out. A TV is suspended from the corner of the room, turned to CNN with the ubiquitous countdown to the debate in the lower left corner. I glance over at Dr. Paul. He looks tanned and healthy, and not the least bit nervous. A second later, I take another look up at the TV and see Ron Paul on the screen. "Hey! There you are!" I blurt out and point. Everyone looks up. It is a surreal moment.
We decided that we werenâ€™t going to eat - they usually have a big spread at the venue, Mrs. Paul has informed us. We all retire to our respective rooms for a nap, to freshen up, and change into our good clothes. The plan is to meet back in the lobby at four fifty and caravan together to the debate site.
I came back to my room but of course couldn't sleep. I'm simply too excited and nervous for my hero. Ron Paul's going down to the temple to knock over some tables and run the money changers out, and Iâ€™m going with him.
Dr. Paul getting into the lead car of the caravan. Standing to the right of the car is Jared Chicoine. Here's an article on him in the Washington Post.
The huge Ron Paul rally outside the arena. They were loud and full of energy! See Ron Paul HQ for more pictures and video. This should put to rest the idea that all the Ron Paul internet activity is "spam." No ladies and gentlemen, we are real.
Newscasters. Up close and in person, they look very plastic.
Inside the debate hall before the debate began. Lots of money was spent for what ended up being a very useless two hours (imho). Watching the debate was like torture. Dr. Paul got very little speaking time, and wasn't given an opportunity to answer the questions that would really differentiate him from the other candidates.
The candidates take the stage.
Afterwards in the "spin room." The spin room was like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Each candidate had a "post" where he stood, and reporters could crowd around and interview him. One by one, they would be called up onto the main stage, where CNN did the big interview.
Fun time! The after debate party at Murphy's. There were hundreds of supporters. I got to meet a lot of people from the website - it was great to see so many supporters in one place! Sorry I didn't get a better picture! More to come in the next few days!
My warmest thanks to Dr. Paul and the Paul family for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Go Ron Paul!