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Young North Dakotans help drive Ron Paul support in caucus voting

predictions about the final percentage.

Moorhead and other Paul supporters describe a following whose level of enthusiasm for their chosen candidate is notably more "excited" than many other candidates' backers.

"We have one of the highest conversion ratios," Moorhead said - meaning voters who learn about Paul and his positions have a high degree of becoming strong supporters.

Those supporters in North Dakota include a group at Bismarck's Century High school, many of them 18 and eligible to vote in the caucuses.

One of them, Adam Twardowski of Bismarck, isn't quite old enough to vote Tuesday but he's a solid backer of Paul's candidacy.

"I have already donated money," he said, and plans to skip his seventh-period class today so he can attend the rally in Bismarck.

Brian Matson heads the Ron Paul Meet-Up group in Fargo and said that, while the youthful segment of North Dakota's Paul supporters are vocal, it doesn't dominate the demographics.

"The age group is vast," said Matson, a marketing and communications employee for a non-profit organization in Fargo. "The younger crowd is the most vocal and out being seen."

Moorhead agreed. The youngest generation of voters and near-voters are better-read and more knowledge than any in history, he said. They have access to the Library of Congress on the Internet, have read the Federalist Papers and other resources.

He worked with 270 young Paul supporters from around the country who traveled to Iowa to help before the caucuses there on Jan. 3.

"I consider myself pretty well read and I was just blown out of the water" by the young volunteers' knowledge, Moorhead said. He calls it "a testament to Ron Paul" and the congressman's philosophies.

While the youngest supporters are nowhere near a majority of folks backing Paul in North Dakota or elsewhere, "Nineteen to 20 percent of our supporters are young people," which is proportionately larger than other candidates, Moorhead said.

Who is Ron Paul?

Paul, 72, is U.S. House member from Texas' 14th congressional district. A retired physician originally from Pennsylvania, he served as an Air Force flight surgeon in the 1960s and served in the U.S. House for four terms starting in 1976 before losing a try for the U.S. Senate. He was again elected to Congress in BISMARCK -- Of the more than 420 college and high school chapters of Ron Paul supporters around the U.S., North Dakota State University stands out, an organizer for the Republican congressman and presidential candidate says.

That's one reason why Paul's supporters believe they will make a significant showing in the state presidential preference caucuses on Tuesday.

And, it's one reason why Paul himself is traveling here and speaking in two cities on Monday.

"The NDSU chapter is one of the most organized in the country," said Dallas Moorhead, deputy national youth coordinator for Paul's presidential campaign, who has been working in North Dakota since mid-January. "The work they've done in ramping up for the caucuses - both working with students and working outside the (student) realm - has been nothing short of vital to the campaign."

In both parties' caucuses Tuesday, a candidate has to collect at least 15 percent of the vote in order to be awarded any delegates. Moorhead said the Paul campaign is expecting to easily reach that and beyond, though he won't make any predictions about the final percentage.

Moorhead and other Paul supporters describe a following whose level of enthusiasm for their chosen candidate is notably more "excited" than many other candidates' backers.

"We have one of the highest conversion ratios," Moorhead said - meaning voters who learn about Paul and his positions have a high degree of becoming strong supporters.

Those supporters in North Dakota include a group at Bismarck's Century High school, many of them 18 and eligible to vote in the caucuses.

One of them, Adam Twardowski of Bismarck, isn't quite old enough to vote Tuesday but he's a solid backer of Paul's candidacy.

"I have already donated money," he said, and plans to skip his seventh-period class today so he can attend the rally in Bismarck.

Brian Matson heads the Ron Paul Meet-Up group in Fargo and said that, while the youthful segment of North Dakota's Paul supporters are vocal, it doesn't dominate the demographics.

"The age group is vast," said Matson, a marketing and communications employee for a non-profit organization in Fargo. "The younger crowd is the most vocal and out being seen."

Moorhead agreed. The youngest generation of voters and near-voters are better-read and more knowledge than any in history, he said. They have access to the Library of Congress on the Internet, have read the Federalist Papers and other resources.

He worked with 270 young Paul supporters from around the country who traveled to Iowa to help before the caucuses there on Jan. 3.

"I consider myself pretty well read and I was just blown out of the water" by the young volunteers' knowledge, Moorhead said. He calls it "a testament to Ron Paul" and the congressman's philosophies.

While the youngest supporters are nowhere near a majority of folks backing Paul in North Dakota or elsewhere, "Nineteen to 20 percent of our supporters are young people," which is proportionately larger than other candidates, Moorhead said.

Who is Ron Paul?

Paul, 72, is U.S. House member from Texas' 14th congressional district. A retired physician originally from Pennsylvania, he served as an Air Force flight surgeon in the 1960s and served in the U.S. House for four terms starting in 1976 before losing a try for the U.S. Senate. He was again elected to Congress in 1996 and thereafter.

Paul's views are of a strong libertarian bent and he ran as the Libertarian candidate in the 1988 presidential election. He opposes the war in Iraq and any other "meddling" in international affairs, has never voted for a tax increase and opposes federal monetary policies, including the Federal Reserve System. While a practicing physician, he refused Medicare and Medicaid payments, according to the Almanac of American Politics.

If you go

Rep. Ron Paul speeches/rallies in North Dakota on Monday:

Fargo -- 1 p.m. Memorial Union Grand Ballroom, North Dakota State University.

Bismarck -- 3:30 p.m., Bismarck Elks Club, 900 S. Washington St.

Janell Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Dickinson Press.

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