HAYDEN - Ron Paul's North Idaho supporters in the 2008 presidential election have regrouped for 2012. Now calling themselves "North Idaho Patriots for Ron Paul 2012," they have been meeting regularly for the past few months.
A scheduled gathering Thursday evening at the Donut House in Hayden attracted 40 people. An age-diverse group turned out to hear guest speaker Idaho State Rep. Phil Hart.
Bjorn Handeen's baby daughter giggled and bounced on her father's lap as Hart spoke.
"Many of the Ron Paulers from the last election have now been elected themselves, or joined other grassroots efforts," said Handeen, now a precinct committeeman in Coeur d'Alene's "Borah Triangle." "We need to cultivate a new group of activists."
Things have changed since they first began grassroots campaigning for Paul in North Idaho, Handeen said.
"Now, we're pretty integrated into the Republican party," he said.
Hart told the group that Paul is the only candidate who understands economics and realizes that the nation's Federal Reserve system no longer works, that it is creating debt and driving the nation toward a financial meltdown.
"If you follow the money for every one of the candidates, it will lead back to that Federal Reserve control, if you will," Hart said. "There is only one candidate that stands outside of that paradigm, and that's Ron Paul."
Hart talked about why he disagrees with some of the main objections to Paul's viability as a presidential candidate.
Regarding claims that Paul is "not good on foreign policy," Hart said Paul receives more campaign donations than any other candidate from members of the military, people Hart said understand best what's going on outside the United States.
Some object to Paul's candidacy, Hart said, because, "He's not presidential." Hart said he recently heard someone say that Mitt Romney was a good candidate because he's got "presidential hair." People need to look beyond outward appearances when considering leadership qualities, Hart said.
"Is the walk the same as the talk?" he asked.
Paul's rhetoric lines up with his actions, Hart said, and Paul consistently follows "Constitutional criteria."
He compared Paul to Thomas Jefferson, who Hart said was not an adept public speaker, but known for his writing. If Jefferson was alive today, Paul would be a better candidate, Hart said, because Paul is a prolific writer, an intellectual and an accomplished speaker.
"Thank you for being here. Thank you for being Ron Paul supporters. We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of work to restore the Republic, but you know it can be done. The Founding Fathers did it," Hart said.
Jim Hollingsworth, organizer of the unofficial campaign group, urged those who attended to steer clear of "beating down" naysayers who don't really know Ron Paul.
"Stick to the positives," Hollingsworth said.
Matt Gross, owner of the Donut House on Government way, said his personal political leanings had no bearing on his decision to open the store to the group. The Paul supporters asked him if they could meet there and he agreed.
"I'm not necessarily for Ron Paul only, but I am ultra-conservative. I stick to my guns," Gross said. "But No. 1, it's always good to have people in your store."
He said he would consider allowing other groups to use the space, Democrats included.
The North Idaho Patriots for Ron Paul 2012 plan to meet again Nov. 10 at the Donut House at 6:30 p.m. Idaho State Rep. Vito Barbieri is the scheduled speaker.