He is the only one of the four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination not to have won a state primary or caucus.
But on Saturday, Ron Paul could get his best shot at a victory in Maine, the cold, far northeastern state that has given a warm reception to his libertarian views.
Local caucusing has been under way in Maine since January 29, and will continue in a few towns until March. Even so, the state Republican Party will announce the winner of its presidential straw poll on Saturday, and the Texas congressman’s strong on-the-ground organization could have a big impact.
Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, generally is viewed as the favorite here, and in the overall Republican race. After losing the last three state contests to Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Romney is thirsty for a morale-boosting win in Maine, where he won 52 percent of the vote during his unsuccessful run for president in 2008.
As the first votes in the Republican presidential race approach, Rep. Ron Paul has become a serious force with the potential to upend the nomination fight and remain a factor throughout next year’s general-election campaign.
Although few think the congressman from Texas has a realistic shot at winning the GOP nod, he has built a strong enough base of support that he could be a spoiler — or a kingmaker.
In a muddled field, Paul could win the Iowa caucuses. While other candidates have been hesitant to commit to the state or have had trouble sustaining their initial bursts of support, Paul has been methodically building an organization and a growing corps of followers.
Over the past week, he has spent more than $600,000 on attack ads that are cutting into support for a fellow front-runner, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.). And Paul has built an organization that will allow him to remain in the race well beyond the early-voting states and amass convention delegates.
He certainly has his eccentricities, but in last night’s Republican debate, Ron Paul seemed to be the only grownup in the room.
I know Ron Paul can be zany, especially when it comes to abolishing the Fed, returning to the gold standard and reducing the federal government to a mom-and-pop-sized enterprise.
He certainly has his eccentricities, such as refusing to wear a seat belt in a car, or a helmet when bicycling, both of which he apparently regards as nanny-state interferences in his constitutionally-protected right to kill himself.
But in last night’s Republican debate, when his fellow candidates were falling over themselves in declaring their willingness to bomb Iran back to the stone age, he was the grown-up, the one voice that warned that what they were talking about would be “another Iraq,” or worse. He also repeated his call to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and generally to avoid meddling in other nations’ affairs. Occupy Wall Street loves his ideas.
The Republican Governor’s Association met in Florida this week and featured pollster Frank Luntz, who offered a coaching session for attendees about how they should communicate to the public. Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody was there, and captured some of Luntz’s comments on Occupy Wall Street.
Luntz told attendees that he’s “scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death.” The pollster warned that the movement is “having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.” So the pollster offered some advice for them about how to fight back. Here’s a few snippets of what he said, according to Moody:
Don’t Mention Capitalism: Luntz said that his polling research found that “The public…still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
Empathize With The 99 Percent Protesters: Luntz instructed attendees to tell protesters that they “get it”: “First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ … ‘I get that you’re. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.”