Candidate's Exclusion from Forum Criticized
By THOMAS BEAUMONT
DES MOINES REGISTER STAFF WRITER
June 21, 2007
The decision by a tax watchdog group in Iowa to keep some presidential candidates from attending its political forum in Des Moines next week has led to a barrage of angry responses from supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, one of the Republicans seeking the GOP nomination.
Paul, a Texas congressman, will not be among the six GOP candidates scheduled to speak at the June 30 event in Des Moines. The forum at Hy-Vee Hall is jointly sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance.
Officials of Iowans for Tax Relief said the decision not to invite Paul had to do with his scant campaign organization in the state and his low ranking in Iowa polls.
Participating in the event will be former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, along with U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.
But Paul - like John Cox and Mark Klein, two other Republican candidates - was not invited because the invitations only went to those candidates who are "credible," said Ed Failor Jr., vice president of Iowans for Tax Relief.
"To plan an event of this scope, we invited credible Democratic and credible Republican candidates alike," Failor said. "We had to draw the line somewhere."
Failor said candidates who were invited had to have demonstrated evidence of an Iowa campaign and have visible signs of support, through surveys of caucusgoers. Democrats were also invited, too, but none accepted, he said.
That did not sit well with Paul's supporters, many of whom follow closely on the Internet the outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and vocal proponent of federal spending and tax restraint.
Among the several e-mail objections sent to The Des Moines Register, some referred to the decision as "tragic," "fascist," and even "evil."
"Shame on the bureaucrats who made this one happen," one Paul supporter wrote. "I hope they become aware of how evil they are."
Failor said he had received more than 60 angry telephone calls at home, a practice the Paul campaign said they did not endorse.
The issue took to the Iowa airwaves Wednesday when WHO Radio talk show host Jan Mickelson invited Failor and Paul's campaign chairman, Kent Snyder, on to his show.
Snyder acknowledged that Paul has no Iowa campaign office, although he expects to add to the campaign's two full-time Iowa staff soon. Paul has been in Iowa once this year. He has performed well on the two nationally televised debates and has established a loyal, and zealous, following.
"Failor's explanation is weak," Snyder said. "He should recognize that this campaign is changing. ... The landscape is changing and people want to see Ron Paul."
Reporter Thomas Beaumont can be reached at (515) 286-2532 or email@example.com