They were a lonely band of rebels until just a few weeks ago, backing the darkest of dark horse presidential candidates. But with Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s fundraising on the rise — $4.2 million raised on the internet in one day this month — and his poll numbers jumping, the Texas congressman might no longer be a “who?” but a potential problem for leading Republican presidential candidates in key states such as New Hampshire.
And in California, the state where the 72-year-old doctor-politician has raised the most money, those who call themselves part of the “Ron Paul Revolution” couldn’t be happier. Paul’s backers are people such as Brad Sanford, 29, a Silicon Valley tech worker who said he never had been involved in politics or campaigns until this year.
Dorinson predicted that, like Perot’s campaign, the Ron Paul Revolution “will fizzle after the first shots are fired in January. He has no organization … it’s one thing to say to a pollster what you will do — and another to actually do it.”
Gloria Nieto, a South Bay Democratic activist, said that she’s seen “so much grassroots activism going on for Ron Paul; it’s really plugged in. They feel really strongly that he’s the answer.” But she noted that “it’s interesting spectrum … anti-war to anti-choice. Who are these people?”
Some Republicans said Paul’s campaign is the antidote to the disappointments of the Bush presidency and what they call a straying from core GOP values. “The last six years of GOP rule in Washington, D.C., is something most Republicans would like to forget about,” wrote Alan Bartlett, a blogger on the popular California GOP Web site, Flashreport.org. “Unfortunately for us, the voters haven’t forgotten about it, and they threw us out of office in 2006. We have a chance to get it right again, though, by supporting Ron Paul.”
That was echoed inside the Ron Paul meetup among eager volunteers armed with “Ron Paul, Hope for America” signs. Stephanie Burns, 50, a construction manager from Sausalito who helps arrange biweekly Bay Area meetings in support of Paul, said the Texas congressman’s campaign — like Democrat Howard Dean’s in 2004 — has skillfully utilized the Internet to reach out to voters who might otherwise never be connected. “And ever since the $4.2 million, it has changed things,” she said. “There’s a lot more recognition by the media.”
Burns motioned around the room to some of the people the Internet has brought to Paul’s cause. “I’ve never even been interested in politics my whole life,” Brandy Alexander, 34, a UCSF researcher, told the group. But after she and her boyfriend, William Newby, 28, a computer programmer, watched Paul slam U.S. involvement in the Iraq war and expound on his views during the televised GOP debates, they were hooked. Thanks to Paul, she said, “Now, I find myself borderline obsessed with it.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
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