Ames, Iowa (CNN) - Texas Rep. Ron Paul proved that he is a leading contender to win Ames straw poll on Saturday by packing the venue with his rowdy sign-waving supporters.
“We have lost our enthusiasm for freedom!” said Paul, who donned a short-sleeved plaid shirt for the occasion.
The audience boomed with applause when the libertarian-leaning candidate blasted the size of the federal government, touted his opposition to abortion and called on government to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Paul said the country functions better "without the federal government down our backs and in our wallets."
The straw poll outcome hinges on how well each campaign can turn out their supporters to the ballot box.
Judging by the size of Paul’s crowd inside the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, which was nearly twice as big as the one that turned out to watch former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, he appears to be on track for a top finish.
Most observers believe Paul will finish in the top three, and could pull off an upset by winning the whole thing.
How would it be an upset? Dr. Paul has been the favorite from the beginning, has had the most support from the beginning and won the debate leaps and bounds ahead of any other candidate. This isn't an upset, it's a well earned victory.
If Ron Paul doesn't win this poll, America will fall. All great empires collapse and if we keep going in the direction we are going, it will happen. Ron Paul wants to reverse our ways and turn The United States back into a great nation. Dr. Paul is the president The United States needs....
Ron Paul 2012!!
Good Luck today in Iowa!!
Thank you for your service to this country Dr. Paul! You have my vote.
Go Ron Paul! We love you!
Without Ron Paul, the US will fail economically just like the Soviets did.
It would definitely "upset" the corporate media and their self anointed "leaders" in the race.
Attn: to all mainstream media..... The American people have spoken about a Clear choice on who we want as our President. Ron Paul!! Not the son of Satan...Rick Perry!
Those of is currently in Afghanistan support you sir! I'm stoked to have access to the debates on the military channels! More and more of us are hearing and listening to your message. As a Marine Corps Vet, I'm currently working with Marines I have known for nearly 10 years. They are sick of being deployed, some of them for 7 months here, 6 months at home, and then another 7 here. They're fed up and need to be with their families. I'm hoping that mail-in ballots are not an issue because the support you have from military members who are deployed here is strong! As a civilian, my job would go away if we cut Defense spending, but I don't care. I would walk away from my job right now if it means you are voted into office because I know you would take my friends out of here and back home where they belong.
Of course, he will place high in the poll, he is paying the 30 bucks for folks to come and vote and have a free meal!
"without the federal government down our backs and in our wallets."
And with the Feds nose firmly planted in every woman's uterus?
If you look at any polls in Iowa, Ron Paul is a favorite. The media just hasn't recognized him as one yet. Hopefully a win at the straw poll would give him the credibility he deserves.
Second place by less than one percent. Not a victory for Paul, but I'll take it. Maybe the media can stop marginalizing him just a bit less.
Ron Paul comes within just a couple of hundred points of Bachman. This is very significant. While he does not get the coverage of the other GOP candidates and yet his message is being heard. Way to go Dr. Paul!!
While I have a lot of admiration for Ron Paul, I don't think he can win the nomination or the election.
Ron Paul is an idealist who doesn't understand what is really going on in the world. I would have hoped that he would have studied what is going on. When I watched the debate, I saw that Paul didn't fully understand what Iran is doing; supporting terrorist, attempting to build a weapon of mass destruction among other things. Paul can't see the real world and what it has become from what he learned.
If I was in Iowa I'ld vote for Ron Paul.He is more articulate than other Republican presidential hopefuls. He has been consistent in his views about America, the role of government, and how to turn the economy around. No wonder he appears so confident at the debates.
I love this guy. Finally, guts and brains and honesty. Go away, Obama. Back behind the bushes, Bush crazies.
Ron Paul has his followers and they are faithful. Too bad about time he gets enough to even get anywhere, he'll be too old!