MANCHESTER, N.H. — A campaign stop at a New Hampshire eatery mutated into a circus on Monday when the media scrum chasing Ron Paul apparently became too much for the 76-year-old Texas congressman to handle.
Paul had been planning to make the rounds through Moe Joe’s restaurant before settling down to eat breakfast with his wife, Carol — who said he enjoys apple pancakes — at a table in the corner.
“Guys, you’ve got to take it easy,” shouted one Paul staffer, imploring the media to give the congressman some space.
No such luck.
“Ron Paul: We have you surrounded. We are the media,” sounded the voice from a megaphone as Paul staffers ushered him into a waiting SUV, just minutes after he arrived at the restaurant.
Holding the megaphone was a man dressed roughly as a wizard, with shaggy hair and tousled beard, wearing a massive black boot upside down on his head.
One woman, dressed all in red with a colonial-style blue hat, waited for Paul while carrying a 4-by-3-foot sign showing Paul — an obstetrician — wearing green scrubs and holding a baby wrapped in an American flag.
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Paul decided to grant only one interview at the event, to Fox News's Brett Baeir. Halfway inside his SUV, Paul took questions for about five minutes from the cable news anchor while reporters strained to hear his answers, then shut the door.
Not all of those who crammed the restaurant early Monday to see the Republican presidential hopeful were amused by the spectacle.
Shoving her way through the hoard of reporters, Karen Hiller found her way to Paul’s SUV and demanded he come back to the restaurant and meet the voters he would be facing at the ballot box on Tuesday.
“It’s the people of New Hampshire he’s supposed to meet,” she exclaimed.
“I agree,” said one of Paul’s aides. “That’s why we did it for a full year.”
As Paul’s SUV departed the restaurant, Hiller explained that her 90-year-old mother, Bea Hiller-Roth, split her time between Florida and New Hampshire, but had flown up to the Granite State to vote in the primary.
“She really wanted to meet him. She was really waiting to meet him,” said her daughter. “I think he lost some votes.”