Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the maverick Republican/Libertarian known for his small but loyal legion of enthusiastic supporters, is facing increasing frustration within his campaign, wariness from a major financial contributor and concerns over a lack of wins.
Frustration overflowed in a campaign conference call Wednesday after Paul’s failure to capture caucuses in North Dakota, Idaho and Alaska — venues where the candidate boldly predicted victory on national TV two days earlier.
And the leader of the Endorse Liberty Super PAC said Wednesday he is rethinking the group’s multimillion-dollar financial support of Paul’s campaign.
“Yes, we are reassessing our efforts,” Endorse Liberty Abe Niederhauser told Politico. “We will continue to support Dr. Paul, but ultimately, we support an idea. We will support candidates who uphold the principles of liberty. We may also get involved in some of the Senate and House races.”
Endorse Liberty, funded primarily by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, spent $2.94 million for Paul in January and is running short on cash. The group reported less than $61,000 cash on hand after its heavy investment in Paul.
Campaign sources also tell Capitol Hill Blue that contributions from other sources have slowed and they expect a further drop after Super Tuesday’s disappointing results.
In a Wednesday conference call, Paul’s campaign aides openly expressed frustration over a campaign that draws large, cheering crowds at events but can’t translate that enthusiasm into votes.
Said Paul senior adviser Doug Wead: “Did they get overconfident? We’re digesting that.”
It also appears Paul’s cadre of youthful supporters are looking elsewhere. Tufts University for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), found in exit interviews and surveys that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum garnered as many votes as Paul from young voters as Paul in Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia — about 88,000 votes for each. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finished close behind with 86,000 votes.
“Paul counted on his youthful supporters,” GOP strategist Arnold Block told Capitol Hill Blue on Wednesday. “Now it seems they are shopping around.”
“So far, the Republican primary shows a strikingly even race for the youth vote, with no candidate really winning the race for Republicans’ allegiance,” CIRCLE director Peter Levine told U.S. News & World Report.
No one expects Paul to drop out of the race but if his contributions continue to dwindle and he can’t pull off a win soon, he may be forced to scale back his campaign.