GOP candidate Ron Paul's supporters say change, not winning, is the point

Robert Nolin
Saturday January 26, 2008

Presidential hopeful Ron Paul is anything but a mainstream candidate, so it stands to reason his supporters should be a little unconventional as well.

And highly motivated.

Paul's adherents take to the street with signs, preach to neighbors, organize precinct teams and Internet fundraisers — all for the Republican contender given little chance of becoming president by polls and pundits.

Why expend such energy and enthusiasm for what most likely is a lost cause?

Political experts, and Paul partisans themselves, say in some aspects it's a function of youth — among whom Paul has sizable support — along with a hunger for someone genuinely different and the desire to send a message, even in defeat.

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"We know Ron Paul's chances of getting elected are not as great as we would like them to be, but we feel we have to get out there with his message, and his message is one of truth and hope for America," said Sharon Thomann of Lake Worth, a 46-year-old auto body shop owner.

The Texas congressman's calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, abolishment of the Federal Reserve Board and Patriot Act, among other proposals, make him attractive to the young, said Kevin Wagner, assistant political science professor at Florida Atlantic University.

A former Libertarian, Paul has a strong pull on like-minded free thinkers.

"He has that anti-establishment thing, and then you combine that with an Internet savvy campaign and you have an appeal to the younger voter," Wagner said. "They're mostly young people looking for that nontraditional candidate and what can you say about Ron Paul? He's certainly nontraditional."

The Internet has been a strong component of what Wagner calls Paul's "viral campaigning." Through it, his followers have organized rallies and broken fundraising records, including $6 million in one day alone.

The Internet has afforded Paul a platform to highlight himself and his issues

"In a sense he's one of the first Internet candidates," the professor said. "Barring a miracle he's not going to win, but he has positioned himself as a player on a big stage, and that's pretty significant."

Full article here.

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