In February I mentioned that Ron Paul was running for president. Since then I've resisted blogging about his campaign until it was justifiably newsworthy. On a daily basis I bore Grump with details about Paul's campaign and he is a good sport letting me vent my enthusiasm and has only told me to shut up a dozen times or so. Up to now Ron Paul's campaign has been growing but only now would I consider it truly newsworthy.
Ron Paul's videos on YouTube were being viewed more than any other candidate and he had more friends on his MySpace page than any other GOP candidate. These two facts withstanding everyone was still pretty sure that this obscure, unheard of Congressman from Texas did not have any true supporters with blood in their veins.
During the first three debates the host networks held unscientific polls in different ways and Ron Paul won all three. This was dismissed as "trickery" by all three networks claiming that Ron Paul's internet support consisted merely of phantoms in an echo chamber. In other words nothing that would impact the real world or would make an impact in the GOP primaries. Ron Paul's libertarian views were all that were necessary to push him off to the fringe and he would bow out quickly as a footnote in the race.
Only that didn't happen.
What happened instead was that Ron Paul arrived at the 3rd debate in New Hampshire to find that hundreds of his supporters carrying signs (from a local Ron Paul organization unaffiliated with the campaign) had come out in force to support the candidate. CNN and others didn't know what to make of disproportionate amount of support shown for Dr. Paul outside the hall where the debate was held.
Because Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate against the war in Iraq (and has been from the beginning) many in the party have tried to remove him from future events and forums. The chairman of the GOP in Michigan started an online petition to have Ron Paul removed from future debates that did manage about one hundred signatures. A counter-petition was started to expose this party officer that collected over 14,000 signatures in 24 hours. The chairman also mentioned that the phone lines at the GOP office in Michigan were overwhelmed and eventually shut down (as well as their email server) and he stopped answering his cell phone and home phone. Apparently the internet phantoms were angered.
Then in June phantom supporters were contacting the Ron Paul campaign and asked why Dr. Paul was not attending a candidate forum hosted by Iowans for Tax Relief and Iowa Christian Alliance. The campaign was initially convinced that they had misplaced the invitation so calls went out to the host organizations to let them know that Dr. Paul was interested in coming. This is when it became known that Ron Paul was deliberately not invited. The reason cited was that he did not have a significant amount of organization in Iowa to be considered a viable candidate.
In response to this the Ron Paul campaign organized a rally to celebrate "Life and Liberty" in the convention room next door to the candidate forum. They worked quickly because they only had one week to put the event together. What resulted was a packed room of over 1000 people. (which outdrew the original candidate forum) In fact the video at this link shows in a humerous way how much larger Ron Paul's footprint was in that convention center.
Finally the biggest news to date was broken this weekend by ABC News as Ron Paul released his fundraising figures for this last quarter and it was reported that Ron Paul now has more cash-on-hand than John McCain (around 2.5 million dollars on hand). McCain will eventually supplement his campaign with federal money (read: YOUR MONEY WHETHER YOU SUPPORT HIM OR NOT) but Dr. Paul's fundraising has come primarily from individuals as he has already indicated predictably that he will not take federal money for his campaign even though election laws allow it.
Eventually the number of candidates will dwindle from the ten major candidates to just a few. Those like Tommy Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback will eventually drop out to allign themselves with a winner in order to preserve a cabinet post or perhaps invest in some political capital for themselves later. None of these candidates have a groundswell of support and none of them will shape the views of the party in the years to come. Supporting Ron Paul may not produce him as the nominee but you may end up with a new political base in America that believes that the federal government has no role in your wallet, your bedroom, or the internal affairs of other nations. That in my opinion is what his candidacy will do...give true hope for America.