‘Fringe’ Candidate Ron Paul Hits It Off

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul announced this week that he raised more than $5 million in the third quarter, a figure that put him in the orbit of Arizona Sen. John McCain ($6 million) and far ahead of Mike Huckabee ($1 million), CBS reports.

Not bad for a guy who has generally been treated as a fringe candidate whose only impact on the race would be as a punching bag for more legitimate candidates looking to score political points. For example, in one of the early Republican debates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani attacked Paul for saying extremists “attack us because we’ve been over there.”

Paul is far from a typical Republican presidential candidate: He has been against the war in Iraq from the outset and embraces a libertarian platform that includes dismantling the Department of Education. His support is largely Internet-based, with 70 percent of his donations coming online, according to Paul’s communications director, Jesse Benton. His passionate supporters regularly bombard online news stories with comments on why Paul is the only candidate worth considering in the GOP field.

But Paul is little more than a blip on the national radar screen, coming in at just 3 percent support in a Washington Post-ABC News poll out this week. Despite his fundraising prowess, he remains a long shot to win the GOP nomination, and Huckabee dismissed Paul as “anything but” electable in an interview with CBS News this week.

“The Republicans are, frankly, divided up between nine or 10 candidates,” said Huckabee. “Libertarians have one guy and they’re fanatically loyal to him … but it’s not a Republican crowd, it’s essentially either a Libertarian, in some cases, just an anti-war crowd.”

Paul now has the money and name recognition to make an impact even if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination, however. His campaign staff has grown from 10 to 40-plus over the past few months, and his team is now working on a second round of television ads. Benton says Paul had more than 30,000 donors for the quarter.

But Paul wants to do more than siphon votes from the bigger candidates in the GOP field. And if he is unable to become a legitimate candidate for the Republican nomination, he could potentially become the most serious and recognized presidential candidate in the history of the Libertarian Party.

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