Posted: June 21, 2007 4:26 PM
Paul Revels in Online Support
Often called a fringe candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, received some third tier treatment this week when he was not invited to a forum hosted by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance. His campaign posted a call to arms to Paul supporters to contact the organizers to protest, even though an officer from Iowans for Tax Relief was quoted as saying that “Paul was not invited; he was not going to be invited; and he was not going to be allowed to participate.”
But major media outlets continued to report on his success using online communities as a campaign and fund-raising tool. Paul, 71, reportedly uses e-mail and Google but otherwise is not particularly Internet-savvy.
“I hadn’t heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them,” Paul told the Washington Post . If not a true technophile, the London Telegraph quoted his campaign as saying “he is a proponent of keeping the Internet as a place of liberty and free ideas, which a lot of online users appreciate.”
That group of “appreciative online users” apparently includes 1980s rapper MC Hammer, who posted a Ron Paul YouTube video on his blog . His post wasn’t an endorsement, however; he also has posted videos of Democratic candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton, N.Y., Barack Obama, Ill., and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards; and former New York City GOP Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Jesse Benton, communications director for Paul’s campaign, attributes his online success to the candidate’s appealing Libertarian ideals. “I think it’s the message, quite frankly,” Benton said in an interview with the Online NewsHour this week. “The idea of limited government and personal freedom is really powerful. He’s advancing a traditional American philosophy. [The people] are hungry for it, they’re passionate for it, and they drive it around the internet.”
Despite his well organized online support, Paul received 2 percent in the most recent Gallup Poll but managed to take almost 17 percent of the vote in a Presidential Straw Poll at the National Taxpayer’s Union Convention last week, landing him in second place behind former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.
Also last week, Paul, who is a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, appeared at the National Right to life Convention in Kansas City, Mo., but his appearance was overshadowed in both media coverage and audience response by fellow Republican candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Sam Brownback, Kan.