Excluding Ron Paul

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The Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowans for Tax Relief are co-sponsoring a Republican candidates’ forum for June 30. The event will feature Mitt Romney, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo.

Ron Paul, however, is to be excluded.

In fact, that’s what Paul’s campaign was expressly told when they inquired. Campaign manager Kent Snyder tells the story:

We heard about this forum from numerous supporters in Iowa who asked why Dr. Paul was not going to participate. Those supporters assumed that Dr. Paul was invited.

The campaign office had not received an invitation so we called this morning; thinking we might have misplaced the invitation or simply overlooked it. Lew Moore, our campaign manager, called Mr. Edward Failor, an officer of Iowans for Tax Relief, to ask about it. To our shock, Mr. Failor told us Dr. Paul was not invited; he was not going to be invited; and he would not be allowed to participate. And when asked why, Mr. Failor refused to explain. The call ended.

Lew then called Mr. Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Christian Alliance, to talk with him. Mr. Scheffler did not answer so Lew left a message. He has yet to respond.

After reading this, I called Edward Failor myself. I said I was calling about the exclusion of Ron Paul from his candidates’ forum, particularly in light of Paul’s extraordinary record on taxes.

"Is there a question in there you want me to answer?" came the annoyed reply.

"Well, yes. Are you excluding Ron Paul, and if so, why?"

Failor explained that the event had been scheduled months ago, and that at that time they had made a decision about who the most "credible" candidates would be.

I didn’t quite understand his answer, though it was apparently more than he’d bothered to provide the Paul campaign. "You thought Tommy Thompson was a more credible candidate than Ron Paul?" I asked. (Can you imagine people gleefully sharing YouTube clips of Thompson with their friends, or holding up "Tommy Thompson Revolution" signs?)

Failor refused to answer that or any other question I posed to him, and closed with, "That is the only statement I am willing to make."

I assume I don’t need to point out that this explanation is not believable at all. We’ll leave aside his organization’s, um, mixed record when it comes to picking out the "credible" candidates. Had this really been a mere logistical question, why would Failor not simply have said so to the Paul campaign when they initially inquired? (Not that that would have been a good explanation, but it would have been something.) A non-hostile person with good manners might have said something like, "We’re very sorry about the way things turned out; we arranged this event a long time ago, and of course we’d have been delighted to have your campaign participate if we’d been able to feature more people on the stage."

The answer I got was pretty obviously one Failor had devised on the fly, not having expected anyone to call him on his decision to exclude Paul.

But the answer I got is also an obvious lie. Here is the schedule of the event as of a June 8 press release. Here, on the other hand, is the schedule just the other day. The second one replaces Jim Gilmore with Duncan Hunter.

I wonder why Hunter hadn’t been told that the arrangements had been made months in advance, that he’d been determined not to be credible — the whole story.

Failor, you’re busted.

After our call, I got to thinking about this Failor character: what kind of person running a "tax relief" organization would exclude the presidential candidate with — and this is no exaggeration — possibly the best record on taxation in all of American history, someone who favors the abolition of the income tax and the drastic reduction or elimination of nearly all other federal taxes? Should this be the Iowans For a Little Tax Relief, But Not Too Much?

I did a little poking around, and it turns out that our Edward Failor was initially a supporter of…George Pataki! George Pataki. And here I was thinking Failor had a hard time pinpointing credible candidates.

I remember seeing Pataki and Rudy Giuliani opening a Saturday Night Live episode years ago in which they both spoke about New York. Pataki was reading off his cue card so badly and awkwardly you just had to change the channel. Slightly less intelligent than George W. Bush: who will dispute this description of Mr. Failor’s credible candidate?

The New York Sun, writing about Pataki’s record, observed in 2006: "Mr. Pataki could be a hard sell to small-government conservatives, given that state spending in New York has grown to a projected $75 billion in the coming fiscal year from $43 billion in 1995." No problem for Edward Failor. According to the Sun, "Mr. Failor said the increases were the necessary result of growth brought on by aggressive tax cuts." Oh.

Maybe this is Iowans Who Are Only Marginally Unhappy With the Status Quo, or Iowans for Shell Games That Look Like Tax Cuts. Maybe it’s Iowans Who Want Guarantees that Absolutely Nothing Will Change.

Or perhaps it’s Iowans for McCain: check out Mr. Failor’s recent campaign donations.

The Iowa GOP at large, on the other hand, is not hostile to Ron Paul, and in fact made sure Paul would be included in the Iowa straw poll. Iowa Republican leaders want it known that they, at least, have no bias against Paul.

Excluding Ron Paul from a "tax relief" candidates’ forum is like excluding Batman from an Anti-Riddler Convention. Even funnier is that these two organizations, in blacklisting Paul, reveal themselves to be even worse than the mainstream media they always criticize: the very day the Paul campaign discovered it had been barred from this Iowa event, they got a call from ABC News confirming Ron Paul’s participation in the August 5 debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

Now I don’t mean to leave the Iowa Christian Alliance out of the spotlight, but attempts to reach them resulted in busy signals or endless rings. They probably figured it’d be one day of angry calls, and that would be it. So I found a second contact number for them, which I reproduce below.

We shouldn’t be surprised at all this; such treatment is exactly what a truly anti-establishment candidate can expect in a world of phonies and hacks. But Ron Paul’s supporters are legion, and growing all the time. I rather suspect they will have something to say about their candidate’s exclusion.

Thanks to Michael Kenny for his input on this piece.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [view his website; send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His books include How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (get a free chapter here), The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (first-place winner in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards), and the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

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