Iowa Republicans choose their candidates for president tonight, and KUT has reporters following both Texans in the race: Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Ron Paul.
We’ve been talking with voters, and KUT’s Matt Largey in suburban Des Moines had this conversation with Ron Paul supporter and lifetime Des Moines resident Chuck Wheeler.
KUT News: You’re going to be caucusing for Dr. Paul tonight?
Chuck Wheeler: Yup. I’m precinct captain of Precinct 54. We’ve been going at it since 7 a.m. this morning. The energy level is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve been apathetic since 1984, and working with all these young people, it’s fun because I get their point of view and they get my point of view.
Their message was, "We need to convert more Democrats and show them how they can change parties at the caucus." I’m like, "No. You need to go after more disgruntled middle-aged Republicans like myself because we’re out there." So we feed off each other.
KUT News: Do you think Dr. Paul in particular, appeals to folks like yourself, as you described it, disgruntled middle-aged Republicans?
Wheeler: Yeah, I think it’s growing. I was not on board until about seven or eight weeks ago when I actually went to his website and did the research. And he had answers, had all the hot button issues there.
I could click on anything I wanted to know and it would tell me Ron Paul’s stance. And after looking at it, I guess you could say I made an educated decision. And then I started looking for local Ron Paul websites. That’s how I got associated with all the kids here.
I’m the only one that can call them hippies. They call me old dude. I call them hippies.
But it’s great. The energy. I worked to reelect Reagan in 1984, and I had this kind of enthusiasm when I was their age. I hadn’t been excited since.
So much nonsense spending is going on right now, and he just wants to bring the budget back to where it was in 2006. He doesn’t want to recreate the wheel.
I don’t know how many times you’ve heard it but the Fed has never been audited. The Fed was passed on a rider, a Christmas Eve rider. I could be wrong on the year, something like 1913 or 1919 one of those.
But he also pointed out that the $1.2 trillion budget increase that just went into effect was written in such a way that it had to be turned down by the Senate. They had to, in 15 days, vote to reverse action or it would automatically kick in. Well, they did it before they went on furlough.
Ron said, “Now we got an economy that’s gone on autopilot.” Nobody needs to be there to approve it, and we increased it $1.2 trillion.
KUT News: It sounds like one of your big concerns is spending.
Wheeler: Oh by far, that and I just love the young people that are in our Armed Forces. They do so much for our country, and suicide is huge. It’s actually I think the number one cause of death amongst active and recently retired veterans.
We’ve got 900 bases in 130 countries. With the money we save from bringing troops home, he’ll take care of them mentally.
Because my dad was in Korea and was never right and ended up committing suicide. My grandfather drove a troop carrier on D-Day on Omaha Beach, one of the typical WWII vets that never spoke about it.
Mental health is a big issue. They’re doing this for us, but for what. Nobody wants us over there anyway.
Vietnam, they’re western now. I had a friend who’s from Australia and her and her three daughters just got back from a week vacation there.
I remember watching live the helicopter footage from Saigon of everybody crawling up that last tower for the last helicopter. And they kept stoking us with fear of Communism, fear of Communism.
Within about five years of us pulling out, Vietnam started getting kind of Westernized. The Communist Chinese went back over the hill and now they’re our banker.
I stole that from Ron Paul, but it’s the truth. We don’t need to be in all these places. We need to worry about America. He puts America first.
KUT News: But that sort of anti-war isolationism stance doesn’t play so well among other Republicans though.
Wheeler: Oh well. With this Republican it does. And there’s more of us than you realize.
We live in a more compassionate society than people realize. And I think that’s one of his biggest draws, is just the human compassion side. I didn’t steal that from him. That’s just how I feel.
KUT News: So you like his chances tonight?
Wheeler: I love his chances. He’s going to run away with Iowa.
KUT did not check Mr. Wheeler's statements for accuracy.