Ron Paul's Lament

Second-place finisher in Ames Straw Poll gets no respect.

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Ron Paul has a complaint. The U.S. representative from Texas finished a close second in the Iowa Republican straw poll of presidential preference Saturday, but his achievement has gotten little news coverage.

Until now.

What may end the near-news blackout on Paul is the sympathy that the outspoken libertarian is getting from an unlikely source, the liberal comedian Jon Stewart. [See photos of Bachmann on the campaign trail.]

The "Daily Show" host wondered why Paul was being ignored by the media, especially after he nearly won the Iowa straw poll, falling 152 votes short of victory out of nearly 17,000 votes cast. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota came in first. "He's the one guy in the field, agree with him or don't agree with him, who doesn't just regurgitate talking points or change what he believes to fit the audience in front of him," Stewart said.

Media representatives say Paul has been ignored because, in reporters' and editors' estimation, he has virtually no chance to win the GOP nomination. But Paul's supporters reply that he would have a better chance if the media covered him and in any case he deserves just as much attention as the candidates he defeated in Iowa, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Representative Bachmann of Minnesota came in first. [Read  Kim's Is Ron Paul a Fringe Candidate?]

Paul's complaints are starting to pay off as media decision-makers start to second-guess themselves. In addition to Stewart's comments, Paul landed an interview with Fox News yesterday in which he objected to being dissed by the news media and said that, as part of the establishment, journalists seem to be afraid to report what he says and seem blind to his appeal. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]

My prediction is that journalists will concede that he has a point and, most of all, start to see his campaign as an interesting story of a curmudgeon with conviction trying to beat the odds and refusing to give up. Watch for Paul to get a lot more coverage in the coming weeks, especially when a new round of presidential debates begins in September.

For more on Paul, read U.S. News's Mallie Jane Kim, Peter Grier's piece at Vox News, and the Washington Wire.

  • See a slide show of the 2012 GOP candidates: Who is in and who is out.
  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP primary.
  • See a photo gallery of Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail.