By: Madeleine Atchley
I followed Nashville MMA and former Gameness Fight Wear owner, Ed Clay, to Iowa, to interview him and to document his trip in support of Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul.
In the MMA world, Ed is in good company when it comes to Ron Paul supporters. Joe Rogan, Eddie Bravo, and Matt Lindland are just a few that have come out in support of the good doctor.
On the nine-hour drive up, I interviewed him.
We arrived early Monday morning, about 1:30 A.M., but by 8: 30 A.M Ed was headed to the Ron Paul Grassroots campaign to see what could be done.
The doors to the grassroots campaign in Davenport, Iowa, were constantly swinging open, with eager volunteers looking to help in any way.
Ed was assigned to make calls letting known Ron Paul supporters know that, Congressman Ron Paul, and his son, Senator Rand Paul, would be speaking in Davenport that afternoon. About thirty minutes of calling in, an army of college students showed up. It was winners of the “Christmas With Ron Paul Contest”! They began making get-out-the-vote calls, and had been doing just that, twelve hours a day for the last week. At noon everybody put the calling aside and headed to the Steeplegate Inn, for the speeches.
Obvious would be an understatement, when describing the location of the speech. Thirty minutes prior to the speech and already seas of people, plastered in Ron Paul wear, had arrived. Pro-Paul signs and American flags were in almost every hand. Somehow we managed to snag some great seats. But the room continued to fill by the minute; people were beginning to line the walls and the halls.
When Ron Paul and Rand Paul walked in the door, the excitement was overwhelming. It took a minute to get everyone calmed down enough to even announce that Rand Paul would be warming the crowd, who was already on fire for the congressman.
Both father and son’s speeches hit a wide range of issues. Everything from the current economic crises to our country’s foreign policy was touched upon. Unending outburst of cheers, for the policy changes that would come with a Paul Presidency, interrupted both speeches, but were received with thanks and smiles.
A quick lunch following the speech and then it was back to the grassroots headquarters. This time, Ed was assigned to go door-to-door in a local neighborhood, to drop off literature, and talk to people about Ron Paul’s candidacy. Dressed as warmly as the Nashville native, who currently also spends a good portion of his time in Costa Rica, could, Ed headed out into the city of Davenport. The city was sporting temperatures in the low to mid .20’s with wind speeds of about 20 miles per hour, not the best conditions for door-to-door campaigning, but this didn’t seem to bother Ed.
The MMA fight coach, currently recovering from a serious ankle injury, hit the pavement, ankle brace and all. The neighborhood assigned, was one of the poorer in Davenport. Those who did answer their doors did with caution. Ed talked to anybody that he could, be it through halfway cracked doors, or people he caught getting out of their cars. Everyone else was left a nice selection of literature. The sun began to set after about two hours, which was probably good, being that Ed said he could no longer feel any of his extremities.
Again, he went straight back to the grassroots headquarters for his next assignment. Ed walked in the door, and with a surprised look on his face walked up to a gentleman sitting at a desk. It was UFC fighter Keith Wisniewski! He and his brother had driven up from Indiana, to support Ron Paul as well. After a few short minutes of catching up and joking that the two were supposed to fight 10 years earlier, everyone got to work making calls.
Divided between two rooms, about forty people called Iowans, asking them to come vote, and explaining why Ron Paul was the candidate to vote for. The calls weren’t always well received, which made for quite a few humorous moments. After a solid three hours, the calls came to an end.
I did get a chance to speak with Keith, briefly. He said that he is one of several people at his gym supporting Ron Paul. When asked what it was he liked about the presidential hopeful, this is what he had to say:
“I am a strong believer in individual liberty, and have always been a libertarian. I love Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy and individual liberty. I don’t know if he is the favorite to win the nomination, but I am really glad he is getting his word out. And I will be continuing to support him in every way I can, moving up to the republican nomination. If he were to run 3rd party I would heavily support him there as well.”
Tuesday, Ed spent the day preparing for the caucuses. He was told there was a chance he might be asked to speak on behalf of his favorite candidate. So, while gathering materials for his caucus location, he also practiced a speech.
Conveniently, three Iowa precincts were holding their caucuses at the Radisson Hotel, where Ed was staying. So after several hours of preparation, he headed down. Immediately, he set in, engaging Iowans, listening to their concerns about the issues, and explaining to them why a Ron Paul Presidency would be the best at addressing them.
Apparently there was some miscommunication; the Ron Paul grassroots organizer assigned to the Radisson location did not show up. A few other easily identifiable Ron Paul supporters and Ed grouped up. They didn’t have a leader, but knew what needed to be done. They divided themselves among the three precincts, to monitor the vote, speak and record the delegates. Ed was assigned the largest group with a final count of 263 in attendance.
Ed talked to the locals, and handed out Ron Paul literature until it was time for people to take their seats and the process began. After a brief description of how the caucuses worked, they called up the speakers for the candidates. Ed was the third person to speak, and he was given three minutes to make the case for Ron Paul. His speech on the issues our country faces and why we need a Paul Presidency was well received. The other candidates who had speakers to represent them spoke. And then it was time for the votes to be cast!
After the votes were cast and collected, Ed and one other supporter for each of the candidates were permitted to oversee and take part in the vote count. When all was said and done, Ron Paul had won at one of the precincts and lost at the other two. However, he did get the only delegates for two of the precincts; the delegates in the third precinct did not announce which candidate they were supporting.
Ed could not get over one thing when asked what he thought about the crowd he had been talking with.
“One of the things that was shocking to me, and I don’t know if this goes for all Santorum and Romney supporters, or if it is just something Iowans in this district hold, but they really did not like Dr Paul’s belief on individuals and respecting their rights as such. Particularly when it comes to homosexuals.”
Ed kept track of the results as they came in via phone and computer. Ed’s reaction to the final count was this:
“It feels like watching Vera losing to Couture all over again. But the good news is, we are pretty sure we at least tied in obtaining delegates. Dr. Paul coming in 3rd place might actually be good. It will give the media time to focus their attention on some of the other candidates and expose their records, which would give Dr. Paul the opportunity to continue reaching the people without them constantly smearing him with their propaganda.”
Ed is still quite hopeful for a Ron Paul presidency, and plans to continue supporting his run in anyway possible. Don’t be surprised if you run into this MMA mogul on the campaign trail.