Ron Paul has inspired thousands of young supporters to join his libertarian cause, but the most devoted Paulites of all are the self-described “Ron Paul Roadies.”
The group of six young men from around the country started volunteering with Youth for Ron Paul before the primaries. Months later, all have quit their jobs and are on the road with the campaign full-time — but money’s running low, one of them has had to give up his truck, and all are having trouble affording proper meals.
Alexis Campestre, 25, of Texas, used to work for a marketing firm in Los Angeles, but left his job on January 2 to volunteer full-time for the Paul campaign. He met the other men “on the journey,” he says, and the group became close. They’ve been traveling together in Campestre’s truck.
“We consider ourselves kind of like the Paul Reveres of the 21st century,” Campestre said from the crew’s latest stop in Venice Beach, California, with his companions Anthony Librera and Les Redfield, both from the New York City area.
“The more we found out, the harder it is to sit around and do nothing about it,” said Redfield. The guys’ duties include phone banking and organizing grassroots outreach efforts for the campaign, and their YouTube video boasts of the number of phone calls each has made.
But money has been an increasingly worrisome issue. At first, the campaign was giving them a stipend as it did with all Youth for Ron Paul volunteers.
Now, “the campaign is getting tight with their money so we’re finding ourselves worse and worse off,” said Redfield.
“After our first little bit with Youth for Paul it was mostly just touch and go,” said Campestre. “That’s why we’re reaching outside of the campaign” to raise funds via their YouTube video.
Redfield blames the reduced fundraising capacity of the Paul campaign, which is thought by all but its core supporters to be in its twilight.
“As we go on, the media is more and more discouraging our supporters and the influx of money is starting to go down,” he said.
Campestre has had to give up his truck, leaving it in Seattle because the repairs it needed were beyond what he can afford. The group is hitching a ride to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with the van that carries a lot of the phone banking equipment.
“It’s been rough sometimes eating pizza 3 or 4 days in a row because that’s all we can afford, but we’re doing it for the right reasons and that’s all that matters,” Campestre said.
Though all say they’ll have to drop out in the next few days unless they raise money now, no one has any regrets. And they’re hopeful they’ll be able to stay on the road; the plan right now is to find other Paul supporters to couch surf with on their travels.
“I consider this a better long term investment than my college education,” Campestre said.