Updated Sept. 22, 6:51 p.m. ET
Texas Congressman Ron Paul stands out in the Republican 2012 presidential primary field for his strict libertarian politics, his opposition to an interventionist foreign policy and his steadfast commitment to educating the public about what he sees as the dangerous policies of a central bank and the U.S. dollar not being tied to the price of gold.
And Paul doesn’t get a lot of love from the Republican base for these views: while Paul has a network of committed grassroots supporters across the country, he is currently running fourth in a polling average for the Iowa caucuses compiled by Real Clear Politics, behind Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.
However, Paul did win a very close second in the Iowa Straw poll. And according to the Real Clear Politics average for the New Hampshire race, Paul is roughly tied with Perry for second.
This is evidence that since his 2008 campaign, where Paul used Internet fundraising and attention to raise millions of dollars and make an imprint on the national stage, he has this year advanced even further in promoting his small government, anti-Federal Reserve and anti-war conservative agenda.
Paul said that the great success of his campaign is forcing the Republican primary debate process to include the ideas he’s talked about for years — ideas that often have garnered little coverage.
“But the big question is will this momentum continue fast enough to make sure that we do very well in January? Let me tell you, the supporters believe it’s possible. I don’t know, all I know is that I think the successes of this message and the freedom movement is way beyond my expectations. Who would’ve ever dreamed that after 100 years we’d be talking about the Federal Reserve at debates?! I mean this is fantastic from my viewpoint,” Paul said Wednesday at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Perry was asked in one of the recent debates whether he actually thought Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was committing treason by engaging in the quantitative easing policy intended to boost economic growth. Paul was not asked about the Federal Reserve.
“The question has come up in the debates, but I don’t get them on the Fed,” Paul joked.
Paul said there’s no reason to rule out the possibility that his campaign could “explode” with interest as the primary and caucus votes approach because both parties, in his view, “say the same thing.”
“They are not talking about what I’m talking about, they are not talking about free market economics, they are not talking about how the middle class gets wiped out, they are not talking about a foreign policy that would defend this country and not pretend that we can police the world forever,” Paul said. He added, however, that he would not run as an independent, and suggested that were he to run on a third-party ticket he would likely not be invited to any debates.
Despite Paul’s success in making some of his once-fringe topics part of the mainstream political debate (or at least getting moderators and candidates to say the words “Federal Reserve” in a debate), his supporters complain frequently that Paul is shut out of the media conversation.
After his second place finish in Ames, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart mocked how cable television news essentially ignored Paul despite his strong showing.
Watch Stewart’s riff on the media after the Ames poll here:
Paul praised Stewart’s critique Wednesday and said that while he isn’t as active as his supporters in complaining about media coverage, he does think that he is excluded because of his ideas.
“There’s a lot of people who just don’t want to hear this, there’s too many special interest who benefit from the status quo and they are called Republicans and Democrats in the leadership positions. Others just don’t have the vaguest idea what I am talking about,” Paul said, acknowledging that part of the second issue is his fault in not explaining his message about free market economics well enough.
Watch Paul’s full comments on his message from the breakfast here:
File photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Ron Paul’s Real Clear Politics ranking in the New Hampshire polls. He is tied for second place.