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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Ron Paul big on 'Net, but media don't notice

Of all the interesting little fish swimming beneath the currents of the major candidates in this presidential campaign season, none is making waves as surprising as those kicked up by Rep. Ron Paul.

The Texas Republican, who embraces a libertarian point of view, has been riding an unimpressive 2 percent in the polls, but if the presidential election were held in cyberspace, Paul would probably win hands down.

Paul's supporters flood online polls, such as the unscientific survey ABC News invited viewers to join after the Republican debate last Sunday. Yet, you could barely find the Texas doctor in the network's after-debate coverage, despite the vigorous applause he ignited with his call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

In endless e-mailings or phone calls to talk shows, Paul's fans blame an insidious conspiracy to muzzle the "truth."

Indeed, you might think the mainstream media would pay more respect to a guy who ended up the recent fundraising quarter with more cash on hand than Sen. John McCain, the leading maverick of the 2000 race. At the end of June, Paul reported raising almost $2.4 million and virtually zero debt in his frugal campaign, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. McCain's faltering campaign was left with about $1.4 million if you subtract his reported $1.8 million in debt from the cash he reported having on hand.

In fact, according to news reports, Paul showed more cash on hand than five other second-tier Republican candidates and one Democrat, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska.

So why, I am often asked, doesn't Paul get more coverage? The short answer is the Catch-22 trap of win-ability. As news media allocate precious time and space, our attention gravitates toward those who have a prayer of winning. And, of course, without coverage, one's chances of winning are even worse.

Yet, like other mavericks as varied as John Anderson, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, Paul appears to be turning on a segment of the electorate that usually seems to lie dormant. In his case, a lot of them live online.

Judging by my contacts with Paul promoters -- in person and through e-mails -- they seem to be largely young, male, independent-minded, leave-us-alone libertarians who like Paul's tiny-government agenda.

Which leads to another reason why I think Paul faces trouble in moving his campaign to the next level of public attention: organization. You can't win political campaigns without it, but organizing libertarians is about as easy as herding cats. Angry cats.

When I asked Andrew Kohut, president of the non-partisan Pew Research Center, who specializes in monitoring polls, he told me his data indicate I wasn't far off, although Paul's portion of the respondents makes up a small sample of Republicans.

"The numbers are so small," he said, "that the only thing you can say with certainty is that he gets more positive response with independents who say they lean Republican than he does with those who declare themselves to be Republicans."

The latest Pew poll at the end of July showed Paul rising to 2 percent among Republicans from 0 percent in April, Kohut said, but among Republican-leaning independents, he surged to 9 percent "as their first or second choice."

Still, Paul's biggest challenge as an independent-minded libertarian is winability in a party heavily dominated by loyal partisans, social conservatives and supporters of President Bush's Iraq policy. The first rule of politics is to unify your base. The Republican base may be dissatisfied with the way the war is going, but they do not favor an immediate pullout until, as President Bush likes to say, "we get the job done."

Nevertheless, Kohut sees an opening on the issue, although probably not for Paul. "There's a defensiveness about Iraq among Republicans," he said. "Many of them say they want a different approach. I think that under the surface there is a market for someone who will say something different from what Bush is saying."

If so, Paul may be preparing the way for another candidate to fire up disenchanted conservatives on the Internet by offering new ideas on Iraq, the terrorist threat and other issues.

That prospect should look inviting to potential candidates waiting in the wings such as former Vice President Al Gore on the Democratic side, who says he's not interested -- for now anyway -- or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich among the Republicans, who says he'll decide in the fall. They both know the Internet. It remains to be seen how well they can herd cats.

----------

Clarence Page is a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 10:12 AM
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This is sad. What I don't understand is WHY in the HELL is Guilliani so far ahead? He is Bush no.2 Probably thanks his "lucky" stars for 9-11, was hated before and after 9-11 by the fire fighters. Didn't do a damn thing except appear on TV with a hard hat on the days right after 9-11. His own daughter doesn't even support him! I guess he caters fools people like Jaybird, M44, and the likes.
post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 10:16 AM
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He's ahead because the Dems have not trained their guns on him yet.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 10:25 AM
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Voters are scared, herding animals. They can't risk splitting up the vote. And the right face needs to say the right words. What they really want is a domestic Ahnuld Shwatznegguh who gets his words whispered to him from off stage like a modern Cyrano de Bergerac.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 10:29 AM
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Guiliani is running purely on his 9-11 performance, which is good. But sadly for him, his weaknesses are all in the things that matter to blue-nose Republican religious kooks. he cheats on his old lady to the point his own kids hate him. That's like, fucked up if you are a Christian. If he gets nominated, they will stay home.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by FeelTheLove
he cheats on his old lady to the point his own kids hate him. That's like, fucked up if you are a Christian.
Um ok, so you wouldn't have a care if your Dad screwed everyone on the block while married to your Mom since your not Christian, right? Christianity has nothing to do with his kids hating him. It has everything to do with his inability to do the right thing.

Does that make sense to you?

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 11:07 AM
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the spin media is to blame...Ron Paul makes a lot of sense.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-08-2007, 12:13 PM
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He seems to have a lot of people who feel disenfranchised, rallying around him, but he has no party machine behind him.

Exactly the opposite of Hillary, for example.

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