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Many college students, 20-somethings and 30-somethings alike are talking about him. His values have been in line with the Tea Party since before there was a Tea Party, although many mainstream Republicans pretend he doesn’t exist. Just last week Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) dissed a potential Paul win in his state by saying, “People are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third [if Paul wins].”
Paul’s own party wants him to fail. They often speak of him as if he’s not real. Put simply, Paul gets no love from the average conservative because he deftly blends an old school Republican mindset (i.e. actual fiscal conservatism, much unlike his party’s more recent behaviors) with a strong dose of straight up U.S. Constitution, and a passive, almost indifference to some of the social issues. It’s a rare combination that confuses some, while simultaneously perking the ears of many.
The same reason Paul falls outside the mainstream is the reason he garners ardent support: his ideas are radically different. He wants to cut all foreign aid, eliminate the Federal Reserve, and reduce government’s role in a big way.
But December has been Ron Paul’s month. According to several polls, he is less than a week away from a stunning, come-from-behind Republican caucus win in Iowa. The main difference between Paul and his competition? While Romney, Perry, Cain, Bachmann, and now Gingrich have all become flavors of the week before returning to vanilla status, Paul’s campaign has grown slowly and steadily. What’s that old saying?
That’s how Ronald “Ron” Ernest Paul—the 76-year-old, twelve-term representative from Texas—seems to roll. Past presidential bids in ‘88 and ‘08 (that should tell you something) have also carried the huge underdog card, yet the fundraising money has always seemed to flow his way. This is thanks in part to the physician’s affable personality, as well as a message so utterly consistent that even the great YouTube cannot seem to interrupt it.
This third (and most likely final) run is no different. In fact, it’s more organized and better financed than anything Paul has ever been a part of, helping shed the labels (“kooky”, “entertaining”, etc.) that his spin-free rhetoric has attracted for years. Paul’s latest online “moneybomb” has raised nearly $5 million in two-weeks’ time for efforts in the first five caucuses, while his competition readily admits that his ground campaign in Iowa is decidedly the strongest.
How do Marylanders feel about Dr. Paul, though? Or Eastonians, for that matter? I recently spoke with Nicholas Tindall, co-founder of the group Mid-Shore for Ron Paul. This dedicated band of Paul supporters holds fundraising and informational events in support of Paul’s run, as well as promotes a growing Facebook presence.
When asked to summarize the underlying reasons for his support of Paul, Tindall says, “People have to realize on their own what they’re losing—basic freedoms, job security, life savings, sons and daughters in wars. Not one person nor party can save us. There’s a philosophy...the current establishment has turned its back on freedom and the ability to live and let live and is taking this from us as we speak.”
Others agree. Michael Anderson, an elected member of the Talbot Republican Central Committee, states, "In my observation, the Mid-Shore for Ron Paul group is the only organized, active campaign here. As Ron Paul’s profile has steadily risen, so too have the group’s numbers. Throughout the country it is said that Ron Paul’s supporters are the most dedicated and I think that definitely holds true in Talbot County.” Andersen notes, however, that the Talbot GOP has made no endorsement of any candidate as of yet.
Earlier this week a woman dressed in business attire walked into campaign headquarters where Paul was going through a dry run of a speech to be given later that evening. A reporter asked what drew her to his campaign. Her answer, in my estimation, seems to mirror what millions of others from all walks of life would say if asked the same question. “He’s the purest protest I can make against the corruption in Washington, DC."
Are you supporting a particular candidate in the 2012 primaries? Or will you vote to reelect Obama? Stay tuned for spotlights on other presidential hopefuls in the coming weeks in our My Candidate series.