Paul’s fundraising turns heads

Ron Paul’s head-snapping fundraising puts a new face on a campaign that the media, politicians and much of the public had relegated to the sidelines.

The Texas congressman is now the presidential candidate tugging at the establishment’s coat.

Funneled through the Internet, Paul’s one-day loot totaled $4.3 million from about 37,000 donors, considered the largest sum ever collected online in a single day by a GOP candidate.

Paul is indeed an online force who attracts support from people who do not fit easily into the standard Democratic and Republican political pigeonholes. His fame, as much as it is, stems from the political shorthand that has defined his candidacy: The only Republican opposed to the war in Iraq.

But Paul leans libertarian in his ideology and cites the Constitution as his guide. He opposes law enforcement or anti-terrorism measures that he believes encroach on civil liberties. His views on small government extend to weakening if not eliminating the Education Department. He favors limiting immigration and strengthening border security.

In that sense, he appeals to voters who may be happy mixing and matching their political views.

To other Republicans, Paul represents an enigma. Does his support suggest a potential base of support that could surprise them two months from now on caucus day in Iowa or primary day in New Hampshire? Or does the money he is collecting from this below-the-radar base buy him support among more traditional, mainstream voters?

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen said Paul has the potential to upend the early primaries with a third or fourth-place finish in the state, above some of the candidates who are expected to be among the top contenders.

“He’s got potential because there is a segment of the Republican electorate that is opposed to the war and is maybe anti-internationalist,” Cullen said. “The Pat Buchanan wing of the party, if you will.”

Pat Buchanan used an isolationist message and opposition to international trade deals to win the 1996 Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire.

“He has that segment of the electorate all to himself,” Cullen said.

Cullen said Paul does not appear to be pulling support away from any of the leading Republican candidates, and that his backing is coming from new or disaffected voters. It’s an assessment the Paul campaign does not dispute.

“My hunch would be that a lot of the new donors who are coming in are people who have not been involved in politics,” said Jonathan Bydlak, Paul’s fundraising director.

A check of Paul’s Internet support shows a vast array of fans. Libertarian sites sing his praises, as do anti-war veterans and voters angry at the Internal Revenue Service and at what they perceive is government intrusion.

He also attracts support in some fringe, anti-Semitic or white supremacist Web sites, even though Paul himself strongly rejects those views.

“He has this very small but very enthusiastic group of supporters,” said Republican strategist David Winston, who has studied the political use of new media. “It gives him the resources, but his problem is what’s the message that grows his support? That he has been unable to solve.”

Monday’s fundraising event was conceived by Paul supporter Trevor Lyman, a musician who runs a music promotion Web site and who is not affiliated to the congressman’s presidential campaign. Lyman created a Web site, ThisNovember5th.com, using the British observance of Guy Fawkes Day as a hook to generate money.

Fawkes, a mercenary who participated in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate King James I on Nov. 5, 1605, is the model for the protagonist in the graphic novel and movie “V for Vendetta.” Using clips from the movie and the English schoolyard refrain “Remember, remember the 5th of November,” Lyman’s Web site spread the word.

A new Web site is now calling on veterans to donate to Paul on Sunday, Veteran’s Day. And Lyman promises another fundraising event in mid-December.

“We’ve accomplished much and have added greatly to the Ron Paul advertising arsenal,” Lyman declared online Tuesday.

Paul, who raised a stunning $5.2 million in the third quarter of the year, is devoting a significant amount of resources to New Hampshire. He is running a $1.1 million television advertising campaign and his lawn signs are common. He recently sent out a 12-page piece of mail throughout the state as well.

He plans to be in the state on Wednesday and again on Friday. He stops include visits to The Telegraph, the newspaper in Nashua, and a taping with the state’s dominant television station WMUR-TV in Manchester. He has eight paid staffers in the state.

Members of the libertarian Free State Project, which adopted New Hampshire in 2003, were Paul’s initial toehold in the first-primary state, whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” But spokeswoman Kate Rick said that base has grown.

“There’s a lot of irritated social conservatives and traditional conservatives,” she said. “I think we’re also drawing support from independents in the state whose issues may be everything from anti-war to anti-tax or disliking things like No Child Left Behind or how Social Security or Medicaid is being run.”

The challenge for Paul is to resolve the axiom posed by Winston:

“Money is a resource, not an outcome.”

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Associated Press writer Beverley Wang in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

Comments

  1. Stratocaster

    I wasn’t going to use that word, but since Sandra said bullshit first, that is what all of this sounds like to me.

  2. Stratocaster

    What a politician tells the public and what a politician wants to do are always two different things. If you look hard, you can always see the hidden agenda beneath the facade.

  3. Sandra Price

    Then stick with the same socialistic plans of the Democrats and Conservatives. If you want something more in the line of freedoms and rights, consider Ron Paul.

    The GOP is running scared after all the money came in on 11/5. Pat Robertson just endorsed Rudy Giuliani but only with his promise to appoint pro-life judges. Even the Religious Right realizes that Hillary is wearing the gold metal in November 2008.

  4. almandine

    Ron Paul’s most ardent proposals are to reform our monetary policy to rescue the value of the dollar and to rescue our foreign policy from the preemptive warmongering that now seems our way. These, like his other initiatives, are based on adherence to the Constitution – or that “goddamn piece of paper” as our current President likes to call it. Paul’s voting record over the last 20 years or so demonstrates that he not only talks-the-talk but walks-the-walk, something almost totally absent in US politics. Of course there will be many, many things he would not get accomplished as president… those other pols in DC would see to that. Perhaps, however, he would be able to instill a new zeitgeist in the US by which our citizens would regain the foresight, ability, and desire to govern themselves instead of looking to Uncle Sugar for every need. Perhaps, too, this new approach would eliminate the terrorist threat – both real and perceived – that bedevils us from without and within. Certainly, he could do no worse than the despots and crooks we now have “representing” us.

  5. remoran

    At least he stands for something, a quality not forthcoming on any of the other bozos running for President. I, for one, am glad this is happening as it is so refreshing to hear somebody that is not “handled” to death when somebody asks him a question. I don’t agree with everything he says but at least he says things with conviction. Goldwater was another pol that did this and I, as a liberal, respected him greatly for that quality. Right now, I like what Paul is saying and I would have no problem voting for the guy if he gets the nomination, something I could never say with the rest of these non entities running on the GOP side of things. As for the Dems, let’s not go there. 🙂

    “Never stop questioning.” Einstein