SANDY - With her 93rd birthday around the corner and her hearing shaky, Barbara Benton is not the typical House candidate. But, then, this is not the typical party.

Benton is a member of the Constitution Party, a small but strident group who adhere to a literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. On Saturday, about 50 members of the party met in Sandy for their county convention.

"I don't know everything about government yet. I'm still learning, but I do know the difference between right and wrong," said Benton, who walked throughout her neighborhood inviting people to her caucus. Only one person showed.

The Constitution Party is small in numbers but there are signs of growth, its ranks swelling with disaffected voters who complain the Republican Party is just too liberal, too self-serving, too willing to abandon the Constitution. Too much like the Democrats.

"Almost everybody here has been a Republican, and we didn't leave the party, they left us," said Dave Perry, who ran for Congress last election and is running this year in state House District 45.

They are also benefitting from the Ron Paul Revolution, even though Paul, himself a strict constitutionalist, is still technically seeking the Republican nomination for president.

"He's 100 percent in line with us. He's 100 percent constitutionalist, and that's a very exciting thing,"said county Party Chairman Leonard Olds.

State Party Chairman Frank Fluckiger expects as many as 80 percent of Paul's supporters in Utah to find a home in the Constitution Party.

Statewide, the party has fielded 45 legislative candidates, 24 in Salt Lake County alone, as well as a congressional candidate in each district, and a state auditor candidate, the most successful recruiting effort ever for the party. And for the first time in the county party's history, delegates had to vote for a candidate. They picked Steve Maxfield Sr. over Randy Lee Browning to take on Republican Sen. Chris Buttars.

Olds, who worked for noted constitutionalist Cleon Skou- sen years ago, predicts one of the party's candidates will win this November. The party's cornerstone is the strident belief that God is the source of rights and government should only be doing those things that are explicitly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

"This land is holy land, and we've allowed it to be desecrated," said Ruth Christiansen, a national delegate who teaches the U.S. Constitution to 18 homeschooled children.

As the party reads it, rooting its beliefs in the Constitution leads to an anti-abortion stance; a hard-line position on immigration; support for gun rights; doing away with the federal income tax, the Federal Reserve and federal control of education and welfare.

Several on Saturday said the U.S. government is nearly as bad as that of Nazi Germany. The looming threat, in the party's view, is the North American Union, a merging of the United States, Canada and Mexico, which hasn't been formally proposed by any of the three governments, but is good fodder for conspiracy theorists.

"The reason we're looked upon as kooks is people don't understand. They don't understand the concept of limited government," said Olds. "They don't understand the concept of freedom. They don't understand their freedom is being taken away."

Mike Nichols, running for House District 31, got the message. He said he is a former Army intelligence officer who found out about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks 15 years in advance and that it was part of the government's 100-year plan.

"These events the government has occurring do not take place in a short period of time. They are always [planned] 10 to 25 years out," Nichols said. "It's a big grand design and this North American Union that is coming up is part of it."

But the party's supporters are committed and its ranks growing, and Joye Wyatt says Benton proves that a few people still can make a difference.

"If a 93-year-old woman who can barely hear is here standing up for freedom," she asks, "where is everybody else?"